The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake

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William Blake, author of Songs of Experience, wrote various poems, which are accompanied by their contradicting Songs of Innocence poems. Through the contradiction of both poems, Blake emphasizes the need for both innocence and experience in order to live a good life. In “The Chimney Sweeper”, Blake shows the life of a young orphan boy. In the songs of innocence poem, the boy is naive and is unaware of the injustice around him; however, the songs of experience poem contradict that life style and shows pain and sorrow in the boy’s life. The title of this poem, “The Chimney Sweeper” refers to the harsh jobs of cleaning chimneys which orphans were told to do. It is through the title, that Blake first introduces the topic of child labor and how it was causing children to lose their innocence. In “The Chimney Sweeper”, Songs of Experience, Blake actively conveys the ruthless life of an orphan through the use of tone and imagery in order to express his opposing views of child labor. The poem begins with a brief image of the orphan’s loneliness. Blake explains that the orphan is “[a] little black thing in the snow, /Crying “weep! weep!” in notes of woe” (Blake 1-2). It is often perceived that white symbolizes purity and black is often associated with despair. This passage indirectly conveys the message that the orphan is a problem for the society. Through the use of descriptive words, Blake stresses that the boy is ignored and child labor is leading him into depression instead of
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