William Blake's Poem London

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There can be little doubt that William Blake's poem ‘London' demonstrates the weakness and frailty of human nature, and the disregard the individual (or institution) has for his fellow man. Blake's character wanders through the streets of London observing the actions occurring therein, revealing to us the dark disposition of humanity. Each verse repeats and echoes this idea with symbology, rhythm, and illustration. The opening stanza clearly shows mans pre-occupation with all things economic and fiscal: ‘I WANDER thro' each charter'd street,

Near where the charter'd Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.'
Charter'd obviously referring to things of a business nature, and perhaps of the great charters that govern England and its land: ‘charter'd street' Is a synonym for territory and/or property. The importance of this word is shown by the repetition through the first two lines. A charter governs those who have usually not had any say in its conception. It is made for the many, by the few. Although in ideal, a charter or treaty is supposed to provide rights and liberties- it usually achieves this by taking such things away from others. In the era in which this poem was written the Thames was a great economic river, providing transport and commerce to London and surrounding areas. It is indeed, therefore, a chartered river. It is a body in which companies (possibly also chartered) battle for monopolies with each other, often morality being of little consequence in their dealings. The next two lines are considerably slower in pace, using single syllable words to achieve this, perhaps denoting reflection on their topic of weakness and woe. To indicate that in ‘every face' is reflected such images, that such is the case with the whole of humanity. None escapes from the human condition of anguish and suffering. Considering this concerning the first two lines, it implies that it is a self inflicted condition- a weakness...
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