Essay on A Reading of William Blake’s London

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A Reading of William Blake’s London

William Blake channels his general dissatisfaction of the organization of society during the late eighteenth century in his lyrical poem entitled “London” (1794). Blake uses vividly expressive language through the spoken observations of a symbolic character he created to narrate and recite social and political problems afflicting this metropolis in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. The poem’s rhythmically patterned linear style, which is very strictly structured, reinforces its central theme: that oppression will be revisited. Blake’s use of such elements of poetry as setting and situation, diction and tone, structure and form, symbols and images, sound and rhyme, and rhythm and meter to convey this
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Just as the insistence on rational, formal, and conventional subject matter that had typified neoclassicism was reversed, the authoritarian regimes that had encouraged and sustained neoclassicism in the arts were inevitably subjected to these popular revolutions. Effected by a century of wars and citizen revolutions, the writers were stimulated by the creative activity of the French Revolution; thus literature often criticized the oppressive nature of government. Political and social causes became dominant themes in romantic poetry and prose throughout the Western world, producing many vital human documents that are still pertinent. The first stanza of Blake’s poem is critical to its central meaning because the Romantic era was marked with the indictment of the metropolis; and consequently directly sketches the political and social picture in London as that of dark, squalid, authoritative, and tyrannical city. The repetition of the word “charter” (3, 4) illustrates the municipality’s strict control over its nation. The fact that the streets, which are artificial or man-made structures, as well as the river, a natural stream of water, are both defined by law emphasizes the state of affairs in the regulated city. Both the streets and the river follow a fixed direction in the landscape of the city, indicating the strict order of the urban center as mandated by its government. The visual
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