London by William Blake

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Philip Grassley
Dr. Fussell
January 22, 2011
Summary/Response Journal Entry 1
William Blake's poem “London” explains very concisely and effectively the sociological problems encountered in London back in the late 18th century. This poem is extremely important to the culture of 18th century Western culture as it called into question the morality and unintended effects of early capitalism with the combination of monarchical rule. It is important to note that this poem was written only three years after the French Revolution in which the French working class overthrew the French monarchy that was in control. Surely many people of the working class in Britain found this revolution inspirational. One could assume that Blake is vaguely alluding to these people in this poem by explaining that the living conditions in London were so miserable and deplorable that the people could be eventually forced, even justified, into revolt. It is much clearer, however, that Blake is attempting to outline the inequality between the working class and the aristocratic. This inequality has been further perpetuated by a British government that restricts freedom of speech and denies protection of the average person in fear of civilian uprisings due to the revolution that happened across the channel in France.

Ironically for the working class at the time, the idea of revolution being proliferated inevitably worked against them. Legislation imposed by the government further increased the control the aristocratic had over the average people. The grip of monopolies fasten, and in effect, the depravity of the lower class increased. Children of the lower class were forced into work while greedy businessmen, few but powerful, thrived in conning the lower class out of a reasonable salary thus the need for child labor. The average man and woman were exposed to sexually transmitted diseases more and more rampantly as the institution of marriage became increasingly dissolved...
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