Innocence And Experience In Blake's The Chimney Sweeper

948 words - 4 pages

Innocence and Experience in Blake's The Chimney Sweeper

The most obvious difference between the two poems would be the length,
although this is not necessarily a difference between innocence and
experience, it does lure the reader into the right frame of mind to
read into the attitude of each poem. Innocence consists of six,
four-line stanzas, where as experience is only three, four-line
stanzas. The length of each line is also longer in innocence when
compared to experience. When you examine what each of the poems is
portraying, this seems like an effective way to draw a distinctive
line between the two.

Innocence begins in a slightly depressing tone, informing us from a
child's first person perspective that he was sold by his family before
he had learnt to speak properly. Blake then plays on the word 'sweep',
which a young chimney sweeper would have to shout in the streets, and
turns it into 'weep'. The repetative use of the word 'weep!' is ironic
and reflects the mood of the opening stanza.

The second stanza begins to relate to an indvidual boy's case, warming
the reader towards the poem more than the previous stanza. Blake
continues by telling us 'little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,
That curl'd like a lamb's back, was shaved'. The shaving of this boy's
head invokes a sympathetic response to the situation. Also, the
comparison between the boy's hair and a lamb has a religious meaning
behind it, Jesus is often refered to as "the lamb of god", the
religious references in this poem, when observed on a whole, would
initially force the assumption that Blake is praising religion. At the
end of this paragraph, Tom Dacre's head is revelead to be white, which
again is an intentional colour reference, as white is a purity symbol,
this further lures the reader into the comfortable assumption that
Blake is promoting religion.

The next three stanzas consist of a dream Tom Dacre experiences. The
dream itself consists of angels, a very obvious religious figure,
freeing other Chimney Sweeper's from there 'coffins of black', where
black is an intentional colour reference again ment to symbolize a
hard, short life of opression, with a 'bright key', bright again being
a colour reference. The children are then allowed to roam freely
'naked and white', white being yet another intentional...

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