Essay On The Chimney Sweeper

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William Blake's The Chimney Sweeper Essay

672 Words3 Pages

William Blake's The Chimney Sweeper

William Blake's The Chimney Sweeper, written in 1789, tells the story of what happened to many young boys during this time period. Often, boys as young as four and five were sold for the soul purpose of cleaning chimneys because of their small size. These children were exploited and lived a meager existence that was socially acceptable at the time. Blake voices the evils of this acceptance through point of view, symbolism, and his startling irony.

Blake expresses his poem in first person, as a young chimney sweeper. This gives his poetic voice creditability because the subject of the poem is chimney sweepers. In addition, using first person creates a deeper sense of sympathy in the reader.…show more content…

In this quote the “coffins of black'; symbolize the chimneys (554). Ultimately this all symbolizes the boys’ death because of their terrible life cleaning chimneys at such a young age. In the next stanza an Angel comes “And he opened the coffins and set them all free,'; which symbolizes the boys’ death and escape to heaven. All of these symbols cause feelings of sympathy in the reader, hopefully causing them to want to help these children escape their fate.

Blake also uses startling irony in this poem. This irony shocks the reader into realization of how terrible life is for these small boys. Some of the verbal irony Blake uses lies in the first stanza. The poetic voice claims that “[his] father sold [him] while yet [his] tongue/ Could scarcely cry ‘ ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep!’'; (554). These words have a double meaning. They can mean that the speaker was not yet over mourning for his mother, or they can mean that he was so young that he was not yet able to sound out the s sound properly. In this case, he would stand on the corner and, instead of repeating the word sweep in an attempt at getting someone to hire him, he would repeat the word “‘weep!’'; (554). Another, more startling irony is that these young children hoped and lived for death because only in the after life could they become children. Blake emphasizes this with the

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