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Blake's Roads to Redemption

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In William Blake’s poems “The Chimney Sweeper” from Songs of Innocence and “The Chimney Sweeper” from Songs of Experience, the reader is able to understand the viewpoints of children treated unfairly. The Songs of Innocence version of the poem, written in 1789, describes how a boy helps a fellow chimney sweeper find comfort despite their struggles. This boy then dreams about an angel that sets sweepers like him free and how they find happiness in their freedom. In his dream, the boy learns that if he will “be a good boy,” he will find salvation in God. The Songs of Experience version, written five years later, is about a boy that seems happy so his parents think they have not done any wrong to him. The boy’s parents are “gone up to the church to pray” while he is clothed in “the clothes of death” and taught to sing sorrowfully. Both poems allude to the religious aspect of the Romantic Period, leading to their theme of redemption. The theme of redemption is shown in the exploitation of children depicted in the poems, the use of symbolism throughout each, and the inevitable loss of innocence.

There is a clear issue of children exploitation in both of William Blake’s poems as it relates to the theme of redemption. In “The Chimney Sweeper” (Innocence), the strength of the desire for redemption shows how extreme the child exploitation must have been. In “The Chimney Sweeper” (Experience), the speaker depicts how his exploitation is related to his parents’ efforts to earn their redemption. England was rapidly developing between 1750 and 1820 due to the Industrial Revolution, strengthening the Romantic Era. During this time, there was an extreme shortage of labor force which required young children to work. Parents began to use thei...

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...ke’s poems help readers to view the different ways people reach and find comfort in redemption, but also how some can be completely ignorant of it.

Works Cited

"The Chimney Sweeper." Marxists Internet Archive. N.p., 2002. Web. 28 Feb 2012.

"The Chimney Sweeper." Mural. Mural, 2011. Web. 28 Feb 2012.

Cuddy-Keane, Melba. "William Blake, "The Chimney Sweeper" (Innocence) and "The Chimney Sweeper" (Experience)." ENGB02Y: English Literature: Historical Survey (SpringTerm). The University of Toronto at Scarborough, n.d. Web. 28 Feb 2012.

Puchalski, Kimberly. "William Blake's "The Chimney Sweeper": An Explication ." English Education at Saint Xavier University. Saint Xavier University, 2005. Web. 28 Feb 2012.

"Synopses and commentary » Songs of Innocence » The chimney sweeper (I) » Imagery, symbolism and themes." Cross Ref-it. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb 2012.
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