Chimney Sweeper Essay

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The poems titled, “The Chimney Sweeper,” written in 1798 and 1794 are part of a series of poems written by William Blake. Blake would write two poems to represent a subject, the first written with childish innocence, and a companion poem written in a more cynical and dark style. The poems “The Chimney Sweeper” are no exception. These poems take on the task of describing and portraying the conditions for children chimney sweeps during eighteenth century London through two different themes. Blake employs the use of diction, tone, and figurative language to depict the unique theme of each poem. While each poem shows the suffering of the sweepers, the first poem theme is of optimism, while the second poem is more cynical and depressing. Blake portrays the suffering of chimney sweeps in both of the poems through the strong use of comparable diction. Connotations of the words black and white are used throughout both poems. White is associated with innocence, while black is a reference to misery. In the first poem there is the phrase “You know that some soot cannot spoil your white hair” (8). This line represents the innocence of the child and his “white hair” not wanting to be tampered by the “black soot.” Later on in the first poem there is the phrase that reads, “Were all of them lock’d up in coffins of black (12).” The children are trapped in these “coffins of black”, which accentuates the concept of black representing misery and death. In the second poem there is the line, “A little black thing among the snow (1).” This “black thing” is the chimney sweeper who has been covered in the black soot and misery of the job. These connotations are important as they better portray chimney sweeping as a miserable, evil job, and the children as full of innocence. This supports the theme of both poems, showing the suffering of children chimney sweeps The two poems establish

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