William Blake presents two poems both titled The Chimney Sweeper, but both have a different perspective. The first poem that Blake wrote titled The Chimney Sweeper comes from Blake’s book Songs of Innocence and comes from the perspective of an innocent and ignorant mind. The second poem titled The Chimney Sweeper, was included in Blake’s book Songs of Experience and has a matured perspective. Blake utilizes both versions of The Chimney Sweeper in order to present his social critique of society. I believe that William Blake’s Songs of Experience version of The Chimney Sweeper presents social criticism better than Songs of Innocence version of The Chimney Sweeper because Songs of Experience articulates an outspoken and direct criticism of child labour while Songs of Innocence criticism is more implicit.
Both Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience provide social criticism on the dangers that child chimney sweepers endure but, Songs of Experience provides better social commentary as Songs of Experience directly identifies the potential for death unlike Songs of Innocence which implicitly identifies the dangers child sweeps endure. In Songs of Innocence, the child chimney sweeper dreams that while he was “lock’d up in coffins of black…an Angel who had a bright key… open’d the coffins…set them all free” (Blake, “Innocence” 12-14). The child’s dream of freedom appears happy and optimistic when in reality it is quite chilling that the child views death as freedom. Blake presents the child chimney sweeper as optimistic to suggest that society needs to help the children find freedom so they do not wish to die. The social commentary in Songs of Innocence is implicit in order to emphasize the child’s inability to fully understand and c...
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...e and believe that Blake is radical and heretical. Therefore, Songs of Experience presents social commentary more clearly as Blake provides a more direct, perhaps more radical, speaker.
Overall, it is apparent that Blake is extremely critical of the exploitation of children during his time period. Blake’s Songs of Innocence provides more implicit social commentary which forces the reader to think deeply about child exploitation. Songs of Experience presents a direct social commentary due to the mature nature of the child speaker. Although both texts provide similar social commentary, Songs of Experience expresses social commentary more directly due to the outspoken and mature nature of the child. Songs of Experience was likely written as a follow-up to Songs of Innocence at a later date in order to solidify the implicit ideas presented in Songs of Innocence.
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