The Effects of Industrialization in William Blake's London
'London' by William Blake is one example of Blake's disapproval of changes that occurred in his lifetime. In his poem "London," from his work Songs of Experience, Blake describes the woes of the Industrial Revolution and the breaking of the common man's ties to the land, which he has brought upon himself. He describes the Thames River and the city streets as "chartered," or controlled by commercial interests; he refers to "mind-forged manacles"; he relates that every man's face contains "Marks of weakness, marks of woe"; and he discusses the "every cry of every Man" and "every Infant's cry of fear." He connects marriage and death by referring to a "marriage hearse" and describes it as "blighted with plague." He also talks about "the hapless Soldier's sigh" and the "youthful Harlot's curse" and describes "blackening Churches" and palaces running with blood. The poem has a simple rhyme scheme of: ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GHGH, as each of the four stanzas in the poem rhyme within themselves.
"London,? like many of Blake's other works dealing with a similar theme, describes living in a society where the cost of living compared with income is steadily increasing, where new diseases are becoming increasingly common, and where the public is becoming ever more disillusioned about the reliability and trustworthiness of politicians. His works illustrate a nation that, due to the aforementioned problems, the rise of violent crime, and other considerations, is rapidly desensitizing itself to the "marks of weakness, marks of woe" and is becoming accustomed to seeing on the solemn and defeated faces of passers-by on the street.
In the first stanza, the narrator refers the streets of the city and the Thames River as being ?chartered.? The word charter has several important meanings. Charter can refer to a grant or guarantee of rights, franchises, or privileges from the sovereign power of a state or country; it can also mean a lease or contract. The word charter can also allude to a travel arrangement in which transportation, frequently a ship or boat is hired by and for a specific group of people. The narrator is wandering aimlessly through the city, which in his mind has changed into a world that is controlled by the interests of business and industry, and all around him he sees the negative effects the industrial revolution has had on society. ?Marks of weakness, marks of woe,? illustrates how numerous people have suffered a great deal of hardship and have become disillusioned with the once thought improvements that would come about from the industrial revolution, and have had their hopes and dreams shattered. The city itself is lifeless, there is little or no activity or enjoyment in life; and has become a dreary place to live in. The word chartered also refers to the restriction of authority and recognition of individual liberties, but also means the acceptance of monopolies, which...