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"chimney Sweeper" Analysis Essay

Autor:   •  December 5, 2016  •  Essay  •  977 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,041 Views

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“The Chimney Sweeper” Analysis Essay

During the Industrial Revolution (1760-1820), children workers, usually from the low and middle class, were a subject that society grew accustomed to over time. These children lived painful lives, both physically and emotionally, and endured horrible working conditions, including heavy machinery operation and polluted environments. A portion of these children were used for sweeping chimneys because of their size and flexibility, however they would get burned by the soot while cleaning. To address the theme of absence of innocence and the darkness it brought to sweepers, William Blake writes the poem “The Chimney Sweeper”. To express this theme, Blake juxtaposes motifs of light and darkness to expose the sweepers’ loss of innocence, creates imagery to illustrate the reality and the fantasies that the sweepers live in, and integrates Christian allusions and symbolism to emphasize the freedom that the sweepers desire.

Blake uses juxtaposition of motifs of light and darkness to emphasize the sweepers’ loss of innocence. When the author’s persona, the sweeper sold by his father, tries calming Tom Dacre after his hair is shaved, the “white hair” and the “soot”, are placed close together (Blake.8). In this example of Juxtaposition, the light of Tom Dacre’s white hair and the darkness of the soot from the chimneys contradictively collogate. This darkness conquers the white hair’s light when shaved, creating the effect of loss of innocence due to the comparison made to a lamb’s back, which is a symbol for innocence. Another example of juxtaposition can be seen with the “bright key” being carried by the angel and “the coffins” (Blake.13-14). The bright key can be seen as an item of light that sets the children free, while the coffins symbolize confinement and death which counter each other, thus, creating juxtaposed motifs. These juxtapositions from “The Chimney Sweeper” infer that the innocence and childhood are being extracted from the chimney sweepers left only with pain and sorrowful darkness that they dreamed to escape from.

To further emphasize the sweepers’ loss of innocence and its darkness, Blake creates imagery that allows us to see through the childrens’ eyes and experience their sorrowful lives. He describes the setting and horrible conditions live through that create images that give us a feeling of both pity and warmth. One example of imagery in the poem is when the cries of agony can be heard coming from the future sweeper who is sold by his father and “scarcely cries ‘weep! (Blake.3). This example of imagery sets a setting of physical and mental suffering in which you can picture a baby crying while being sold to a sweep. Blake shows similar representation when the chimney sweepers run down a “green” field and


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