Chimney sweeping was a job that required children in order to get the work done (Child Labor). In his poem, Blake’s narrator says “… my father sold me while yet my tongue/ could scarcely cry “ ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep!” (Blake 2-3). This shows that when he was put into work, he was a young child just abandoned by his father.
Jan. 12 2005: 27-29. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 25 Oct 2012. Walmsley, Angela.
Web. 15 May 2011. Radner, John B. "The Struldbruggs, the Houyhnhnms, and the Good Life." Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 17.3 (1977): 419-28.
In “The Chimney Sweeper” William Blake utilizes the elements of imagery, irony, symbolism, and allusion to portray the harsh reality of child labor through the outlook of a child imprisoned in it. In the eighteenth century, child labor in England was a big social issue and William Blake did not stand for the cause, which he expressed in the poem through the perspective of the speaker-a young chimney sweeper. Most children that were subjected to child labor were done so do to their parents’ inability to provide for them in such hard times, such as the late eighteen hundreds. The reader can assume the speaker’s situation to be similar seeing that his mother died when he was at a very young age (Blake 1). In addition, the reader gets a sense of how young the child was when he was sold to work as a chimney sweeper through the imagery of sound, “my father sold me while yet my tongue/ Could scarcely cry” ‘weep, ‘weep, ‘weep, ‘weep!””(Blake 2-3).
(Ferguson, Salter, and Stallworthy) In most of his poetry, he emphasizes on how the consuming materialistic culture leads to the downfall of society. Blake is stating that eventually humanity will be lost to the suffering of mankind because of oppression and tyranny, which leads to one trying to get ahead of another. Blake symbolically states that this cycle will never cease, until mankind is spiritually renewed through God. A particular view of oppression that Blake emphasized was set around the Industrial Revolution in Britain. Industrial factories had a high supply for new product, so there was an extremely high demand for labor, so children were used as laborers.