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Commentary ' the chimney sweeper ' by William Blake

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  1. Analysis of the description full of pathos of the chimney sweepers' life and survival
  2. Construction of a promised paradise through Tom's dream
  3. Deconstruction of the utopia by means of irony and the message of the poet

This poem, written in 1789 by William Blake, was published in ?Songs of Inno-cence?. Like its fellow poems, it deals with childhood as an epitome for innocence and purity; here, the poet chooses to look into the life of the poor young boys who used to sweep chimneys in London in those times. The narrator, a chimney sweeper among his fellows, tells us about their precarious life, through his own story and the visionary dream of his friend, Tom Dacre. Throughout the poem, which is divided into six stanzas, rhymed in quatrains, it seems that these innocent chimney sweepers always waver between hope and despair, between their wretched life and the promised land they could only dream about. So as to grasp Blake's aim better, we will first analyse the description full of pathos, of the chimney sweepers' life and survival. Then, we will study the construction of a promised paradise through Tom's dream, in order to get the deconstruction of the utopia by means of irony and the message of the poet, in the last moment.

Blake first sets the scene and establishes his characters firmly in a dark and heavy atmosphere.

[...] chimney sweeper among his fellows, tells us about their precarious life, through his own story and the visionary dream of his friend, Tom Dacre. Throughout the poem, which is divided into six stanzas, rhymed in quatrains, it seems that these innocent chimney sweepers always waver between hope and despair, between their wretched life and the promised land they could only dream about. So as to grasp Blake's aim better, we will first analyse the description full of pathos, of the chimney sweepers' life and survival. [...]


[...] Moreover, since the poem is essentially about innocence rather than being innocent in nature, Blake chooses to employ a narrator who is clearly of a more experienced mind set in terms of being, at least partially if not entirely, aware of the deception and false hope that is being fed to Little Tom Dacre by the angel of the poem. The pun on in the first stanza, comparing cynically his baby cry with an almost yet professional chimney sweeper's cry of distress, shows us that the narrator is in fact perfectly aware of his ironic fate. [...]

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