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The Chimney Sweeper - William Blake

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by

Bailey Jones

on 27 September 2013

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Transcript of The Chimney Sweeper - William Blake

Literal Scenario:
The boy was sold to the chimney sweepers and now is a chimney sweeper himself.

As more kids joined the group of workers, he comforted them by telling them why their hair had to be cut and that it was for a good reason.

In his sleep, Tom dreamed that his comrades were all dead. An angel freed them to lead them to heaven.

The angel told Tom that if he was well behaved, he too could go to heaven and have the Lord as his father.

When they woke, they all went to work and Tom was no longer sad and blue, but "happy and warm".

Agency:
In the beginning of the poem the narrator is the agent. However it shifts to Tom in the second stanza and the poem finishes with him as the agent.
Speech Acts:
Antecedent Scenario:
The poem leads readers to believe that the family was poor because the father had to sell his son to the chimney sweepers for money. In the 1700s, many young children worked as chimney sweeps. Because of their smaller size , they were able to fit into the chimneys better than an adult would
The Chimney Sweeper - William Blake

Clarification - Tom's eyes are opened by his dream. Being down and gloomy as he works before the dream, after he works in a happier spirit, trying to reach Heaven.
Tone:
While the tone sounds very "rhymey", it doesn't sound innocent. It has a sad tone leading up to feeling sympathy.
ex: Stanza 2

A Division into Structural Parts:
The narrator went from talking about himself to talking about Tom. "When my mother died I was very young..." to "There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head..."

Starting in 3rd stanza there is quite a contrast, going from dark to light and ending as dark in the last stanza.
Imagination:
Tom's white hair: Because he is young, the reader can infer that his hair is a really pale blonde and not actually white. The white, however, represents purity. Children are thought to be as pure because they haven't been introduced to as much sin as adults.
Climax:
Where the "And"s start in stanza three. Everything starts to lead up to stanza five where it starts with "then", making clarification there.

"Then naked and white, all their bags left behind."
Meaning:
Though the chimney sweepers may not think that life is fair, they still work hard and try to obey God to reach heaven one day. Though life is dim, they hold onto the hope that the afterlife will be better.
Full transcript