The Chimney Sweeper: Dispair Essay

The Chimney Sweeper: Dispair Essay

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Throughout the Industrial Revolution in England in the 18th century, many children were forced to work against their own will, to support the growing need for labor in the demanding economy. William Blake’s “The Chimney Sweeper,” meticulously portrays the mindsets of two individuals obligated to carry out these societal expectations of working at a very young age. However, contrary to societies opinion on harmful child labor, Blake uses irony and sarcasm to convey his critical allegation of the wrongdoings of the church and society on their lack of effort to intervene and put an end to the detrimental job of adolescent chimney sweeping. By creating this ironic atmosphere, Blake establishes a poem that is full of despair and suffering but is sugar-coated and disguised with happiness and content provided by the church and society of London.
The first piece of evidence by Blake that identifies the pressure of society placed upon the children is Blake’s particular use of rhyme scheme. Starting with the last two lines of the first stanza of the poem, Blake immediately jumps in to depict his disparaging opinion of society by enforcing the lack of parental protection present for these chimney-sweeping children. The rhyming lines, “I was very young/ … yet my tongue” (3-4) introduce the idea that this individual (the speaker of the poem) was so young and innocent that he could not only say the word “sweep,” but more importantly, that he also could not stand up for himself even against his own father, and oppose the job that he was forcefully sold in to. This particular example demonstrates how vulnerable these children were to society and how they could be easily abused and oppressed. While the first stanza may seem to directly coincide ...

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...ess. Ultimately, the use of irony in this poem creates a powerful message that describes both the corruption of the Church, which is supposed to be regarded as a compassionate power, as well as the bleak future for Tom and the other chimney-sweepers.
Though this poem mainly describes the suffering of these children, William Blake wrote another poem also titled “The Chimney Sweeper” where he described how as these chimney-sweepers grew older, they began to realize how they were taken advantage of and how the promises of the Church were all just a big hoax. From these two poems, it can be inferred that Blake intentionally pointed out and revealed the malfeasance of the Church and society and how they exploited younger children due to their gullibility and innocence solely for the economy without having any regard for the children’s lives.

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