Contraries in Blake's Song of Experience

Topics: William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Hell Pages: 2 (596 words) Published: November 5, 2012
Blake’s “Song of Innocence” and “Song of Experience” carry high social-criticism value by expressing the conflict and contraries, especially in “The Chimney Sweeper”. At first glance, there is already general contrast in which the poem is placed: “Innocence” and “Experience”-“The two Contrary state of the human soul”. Even though related to the innocence, Blake subtly suggests discontinuities in the first “The Chimney Sweeper”. Happiness and misery of an innocent child is determined by the adult, the one who has “experience”. The story of Tom Dacre, like other “thousands of sweepers”, they were lock up in coffins of black. Whether it is the real coffin to that holds their body, or the black chimney that they are tied with, living already connected with death. They are “locked in” until an Angel come and ‘set them all free’ so that they can ‘down leaping, laughing’ and ‘wash in a river and shine’. Peaceful as it may seems, the Angel tell Tom ‘he’d have God for his father’ only if he’d be a good boy. Does that mean their joy can only be achieved through the submission to the upper classes? And despite such a beautiful dream the sweeper had, “contemporary dream” is all they can have; in the end, our child awoke, with “bags and brushes” to work. The innocent tone only reveals to more bitterness in the experience… The sweeper in “Song of experience” displays both “Love and Hate”, “Happiness and Sorrow”. The optimistic tone has disappeared, leaving a more experienced chimney sweeper, who naturally loves his parent as a child but now “blames” his parents of abandoning him “Where are thy father & mother? Say?”-“They are both gone up to the church…”. Blake’s use of words also suggests contrary. ‘Happy…upon the heath’; ‘smiled…among winter’s snow’; ‘is clothed…in the clothes of death’; ‘is taught to sing…the notes of woe’. Obviously this is a child that is taken care of; he is provided with happiness, smiles, warmth, and education. However, those are the happiness of the...
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