Chimney Sweeper

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Corruption of authority can consume an individual or even an entire society. Both of William Blake’s poems, “The Chimney Sweeper,” syntactically resemble one another through Blake’s employment of the ampersand and a fairly simplistic rhyme scheme; however, the tone in the first poem remains naïve and innocent as the speaker personally describes critical moments of coping with the atrocities of chimney-sweeping while the second poem employs a more cynical or accusatory tone as the point of view shifts from the speaker’s plight to the plight of all individuals succumbed to all atrocities. Blake, in turn, exposes the hypocrisy of society in which the church’s intolerance leads to mental, physical, and emotional wounds that may never mend. Both poems may have inconsistencies; however, syntactically, the two poems prove to be exceptionally similar. Throughout both poems, Blake intentionally employs the use of the ampersand (or the “&” symbol) in phrases such as, “So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep,” and, “’Where are thy father & mother? Say?’” (line 4, line 3). By utilizing this symbol, Blake informally writes in an attempt to capture the intimate thoughts of a group of individuals who were virtually invisible. Blake's focus on the individual's story brings what was previously invisible into view; thus, he emphasizes the importance of individuality and originality through his unique utilization of the ampersand. The individuals who are confined by this power are deemed invisible in the eyes of the public, rectifying Blake’s claim that ingenuity or any form of unconventional behavior is necessary to comment on the hypocrisy within a society (particularly during the Romantic Period). The AABB rhyme scheme also appears to be evident in both poems, “The Chimney Sweeper.” The words in the first poem, “weep” and “sleep,” rhyme in the same manner as “snow” and “woe” in the second poem (lines 3, 4, lines 1, 2); thus, the lighthearted and childlike AABB...
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