Theme Of Death And Innocence In The Chimney Sweeper

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The images of death and innocence in William Blake’s “The Chimney Sweeper” poems
“The Chimney Sweeper” is a title of two poems by William Blake, the first one was published in the collection of poems Songs of Innocence in 1789, the second one in Songs of Experience in 1794. Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience contain several titles which are contrasting with each other and Blake presents innocence and experience of the poems of chimney sweepers as a perfect example of it. As both these poems depict the loss and subsequent absence of innocence and considering high death rate of children chimney sweepers, the imagery of both innocence and death can be easily found throughout both “The Chimney Sweeper I” and “The Chimney Sweeper II”.
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At the beginning of the poem, an adult speaker sees “a little black thing”, an abandoned boy, child labourer lying in the snow. He says that his parents are praying in the church, taking more interest to their religious duty than to their child. He is depicted as black, the aforementioned symbolic colour of destruction, in this poem it is, most likely, the destruction of innocence and also death. Although, the black colour can be just describing him as covered in soot, it can also mean that he is wearing “the clothes of death” that his parents made him to wear. The meaning of “the clothes of death” can be both literal meaning the chimney sweepers’ uniform, the soot coverage, the cloth used to clean chimneys, or the black clothes wore in a coffin, and metaphorical, meaning the predestination of little chimney sweepers to deteriorated health or death due to the high occupational …show more content…
The little child was forced to work as a chimney sweep because he was enjoying the winter season and was happy in an innocent childlike way. Now as a chimney sweeper, when he is singing and dancing, people think that when he is so happy, he does not suffer. But he is singing “the notes of woe” - he probably sings to escape his miserable fate and sadness and to comfort himself.
The criticism of the church expressed in “The Chimney Sweeper I” is additionally extended to the state and society in “The Chimney Sweeper II” when the child implies that the church, the state, and, probably unknowingly, his parents “make up a heaven of our misery” meaning that they take the advantage over the children’s labour and misery. Linda Freedman in her article Blake’s two chimney sweepers states: “This suggests that organised religion is built upon innocent pain.”1 What is more, the church also makes such arrangements for society to think that the chimney sweepers are happy and not suffering in their

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