The Chimney Sweeper: Analysis Essay

The Chimney Sweeper: Analysis Essay

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In Robert Blake’s Chimney Sweeper, the lives of two young boys who sweep chimneys are displayed. It is through these boys he evokes a sense of pity and sympathy to speak out against the horrors of forcing children to work in dangerous jobs. By characterizing the speaking boy and his friend Tom Dacre as two pure and innocent children he can open eyes to the horrors of the chimney sweeping business.
Throughout The Chimney Sweeper, the young boy is characterized as an innocent child, unaware to his true situation. Blake sympathized with young boys working in the harsh conditions of being a chimney sweeper. By showing the young child’s complete obliviousness, Blake causes the readers to see into the life of a chimney sweeper. The boy in the poem is a very young child, not much older than seven or eight years old. It is made clear that the boy is merely a child multiple times throughout the poem. He tells us that he was sold into chimney sweeping before his “tongue could scarcely cry " 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!” Generally young children are the ones that have trouble with their pronunciation. We learn that the boy’s mother died when he was very young, further enhancing the sympathy towards the child. The speaker seems to be oblivious to the serious situation at hand. Although he mentions that his “father sold…” him at a very young age, he does not seem to have any anger or hatred towards his father. The boys are also characterized by Tom Dacre’s reaction to having his hair cut. He begins to cry while his head is shaved, a childish reaction. Tom is compared to a lamb in a simile. Lambs are commonly seen as symbols of purity. The thoughts and actions of the boys not only characterize themselves as pure, but characterize all children th...


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...ituation because he does not seem to understand it completely. Due to his innocence, he cannot understand what has put him in the position. The boy does not recognize that he is essentially a slave. The author, however, knows the true severity of the boy’s situation and is trying to change the situation of others like the boy.
Blake uses The Chimney Sweeper to advocate against the issue of children working to death as chimney sweepers. By contrasting the boy’s innocence and the severity of working as a chimney sweeper he displays the horrors of the situation. Later, Tom Dacre has a dream that contains two very different interpretations, one relating to their current life, the other, to the afterlife. Irony is also prevalent in the story to characterize the boys as innocent. All of these aspects of the poem come together to evoke pity for the children in the reader.

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