The Chimney Sweeper Explores Tenets Of Romanticism

1476 words - 6 pages

PassionThe individualNatureImagination/creativityExplain why your poem is a very good exploration of [x] and [y].William Blake'sThe Chimney-Sweeper in Songs of Innocence effectively explores the archetypal Romantic themes of [x] and [y] through the anecdote of children chimney-sweeps during the late 18th century, London. As the precursor of Romanticism, Neo-Classicism promoted logic and reason, discipline, the Great Chain of Being, Deism, and urbanisation. Reinforced by the Church of England and the monarchy, the restrictive circumstances of the time facilitated the development of the Romantic ideals of freedom of expression, individuality, subjectivity, equality and Pantheism, as well as the French Revolution. Dissenters such as Blake fiercely challenged the status quo, pioneering the Romantic Movement.The Chimney-Sweeper successfully articulates the Romantic concept of passion using the innocence and vulnerability of a child as a plea for social justice. The combination of the AABB rhyme scheme, simple word choice, and anapaestic and iambic feet in the poem creates a childlike, light-hearted tone which accentuates the naivety of the speaker, who does not comprehend his grim situation and the exploitation that he is subject to. Blake's anger and disgust towards society is evident in the first stanza, where the use of first and second person in the alliteration 'So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep', implicates listeners for the deplorable conditions which the chimney-sweeps faced. The lines 'When my mother died I was very young,/And my father sold me while yet my tongue/Could scarcely cry "Weep! Weep! Weep! Weep!"' demonstrate the injustice of forcing such young children into an incredibly dangerous line of work. The use of enjambment creates a sense of urgency and speeds up the pace of the poem, but is brought up short by the repetition of the monosyllabic "weep". This spurs listeners to a sense of outrage.In the second stanza, the persona changes to third person, where the speaker is reassuring Tom Dacre, a younger boy, that shaving his head was beneficial as the soot can no longer spoil his hair. The speaker's optimism in his bleak environment epitomises the tragedy of the situation and invokes pity within the listener. The simile and biblical allusion of "his head,/That curled like a lamb's back" compares Tom's hair to that of a lamb, a symbol of innocence and purity that was often given as a sacrifice to God in the bible. However, the shaving of Tom's hair denotes the loss of his childhood as he is now involved in the cruel chimney-sweeping industry. Blake's harsh social commentary reveals his passionate views on the injustice of child labour and confronts listeners with the need for change in society.Additionally, The Chimney-Sweeper skilfully illuminates the Romantic tenet of power of the individual by establishing the incorruptibility of the children chimney-sweeps and the value of heightened emotion. The line 'You know that the...

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