Blake was a part of the Romantic Era (1800-1850), a time period that was focused on the individual and the glorification of nature. “London” was written during a postindustrial age England, when economical focus shifted from agriculture to the quick urbanization of cities and factory development. The deplorable living conditions left many sick, and unfair wages in factories created a divide between the rich and the poor. “London” is told through the prospective of a speaker strolling through the streets of London, observing what he sees and hears. The speaker observes the distraught cries and sorrowful faces of men, children, chimney-sweepers, soldiers, and prostitutes. Blake described the people and the condition of London with truth, and revealed the horror the industrialized city had become.
The use of symbolism in “London” helps Blake in creating the bleak picture of the city, London. The speaker describes the human misery he witnesses: “And in every face I meet/Marks of weakness, marks of woe.” The source of the miserable behavior is the restriction of human freewill and consciousness (Edmunson 1). These people a...
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...l image of a wedding carriage turned ironically into a vehicle that transports bodies to the grave (Minot 1). Blake creates a paradoxical image in one phrase that symbolizes the infection and corruption of marriages in London. The traditional sacred form of marriage in Blake’s view is tarnished by desperation and prostitution. In addition, Blake is trying to expose society’s moral decay.
William Blake’s powerful writing tackled social issues he witnessed in society, and in his poem “London” he provides a looking glass into the people of London’s misery. Through the eyes and ears of a wandering observer, Blake transports readers to a horrifying and realistic 19th century London. Blake analyses these issues of oppression and corruption by creating a revolutionary poem. “London” is an inspiring work that captures the true essence of London during its darkest hours.
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