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Chimney Sweeper Essay

1423 words - 6 pages

William Blake presents two poems both titled The Chimney Sweeper, but both have a different perspective. The first poem that Blake wrote titled The Chimney Sweeper comes from Blake’s book Songs of Innocence and comes from the perspective of an innocent and ignorant mind. The second poem titled The Chimney Sweeper, was included in Blake’s book Songs of Experience and has a matured perspective. Blake utilizes both versions of The Chimney Sweeper in order to present his social critique of society. I believe that William Blake’s Songs of Experience version of The Chimney Sweeper presents social criticism better than Songs of Innocence version of The Chimney Sweeper because Songs of Experience ...view middle of the document...

The child chimney sweeper admits that his parents “clothed [him] in clothes of death” by forcing him into the chimney sweeping industry (Blake, “Experience” 7). The child of Songs of Experience views his occupation as oppressive and dangerous as the child chimney sweeper believes that his uniform will be the clothes he is buried in. Blake criticizes the parents of the child chimney sweeper as they clearly neglect their child, indicating that society needs to focus on family social structure and eliminate abuse within the household. Songs of Experience is much more direct because it exemplifies the perspective of a mature human which allows the child to be aware of the oppression and fate. Unlike Songs of Innocence, the child Songs of Experience is not imaginative or optimistic that the end of his life will equal freedom. Songs of Experience directly provides social criticism through critiquing the neglect of child sweepers as they are guaranteed to be subject to death due to the dangers of the job unlike Songs of Innocence which establishes a child’s imaginative and unrealistic perspective in order to reflect the mind of an innocent and ignorant child.
Blake’s Songs of Experience and Songs of Innocence focus on the social inequalities of the child chimney sweepers continues as Blake expresses the dehumanization of the child chimney sweepers. In Songs of Innocence, the audience is introduced to “little Tom Dacre,” a child sweep (Blake, “Innocence” 5). By establishing the child sweep as an individual, the audience will likely develop an emotional connection with the boy which allows the reader to sympathize and pity Tom who has been exploited by society. The sympathy the reader feels for Tom likely leads the reader to ponder why society does not pity the non-fictional child chimney sweepers. Blake develops a character with an identity to allow the audience to realize that society ignores humans that are low class like the child sweeps and society fails to recognize child sweepers like Tom as human. The purpose of the implicit nature of Songs of Innocence is to encourage the reader to make a self-realization that the reader themselves are responsibility for the dehumanization of children as they often ignore the tiny voices of the child chimney sweepers. In contrast to Songs of Innocence, an observer in Songs of Experience, refers to a child chimney sweeper as “a little black thing among the snow” (Blake, “Experience” 1). It is assumed by the title that the “thing” is indeed a child chimney sweeper dirtied from soot. The observer does not recognize the child as human, given a name or characterized as seen in Songs of Innocence. Since Songs of Innocence was written before Songs of Experience, Blake likely intended for Songs of Experience to be read last to solidify the self-realization that the reader makes in Songs of Innocence. If the reader just read Songs of Experience they may think the poem refers to society in general as the reader will...

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