“The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake” In William Blake’s poem, the reader will read about the first person point of view of a child going through a neglected life of child labour and slavery. In the poem, “The Chimney Sweeper”, Blake’s use of onomatopoeia conveys the emotions of the character in the poem. William Blake uses symbolism in his poem which gives the reader a better understanding of the message he is trying to convey. As well, Blake’s use of colors and adjectives provides the reader contrast between innocence, freedom and death.
William Blake puts all these factors together in his poem to show how devastating it can be to lose your innocence at such a young age, the ignorance of society towards child labour and how religion can sometimes be your only way to feel hope when times get hard. To start off, in the first stanza Blake’s use of onomatopoeia is quite effective on reflecting the devastation of the child being sold by his father right after his mother had passed away when he writes “weep, weep, weep, weep” (Blake 3). The word ‘weep’ gives the reader the sound of someone crying hysterically.
The use of repetition is also relevant which adds on to the effect of Blake’s use of onomatopoeia by solidifying the idea of a child weeping. Additionally, William Blake directs the focus towards the reader when the character says “so your chimneys I sweep” (Blake 4). That being said, it is certain that Blake is portraying how ignorant the world is towards child labour which makes the reader feel guilty and think twice about their views on child labour since many people do not witness it on a daily basis.
Secondly, William Blake’s use of symbolism in this poem comes hand in hand when it comes to understanding the message being delivered. In the second stanza, William Blake writes “that curled like a lambs back was shav’d” (Blake 7). Blake provides us with an image of a lamb which could be perceived in two different ways. One being that the lamb symbolizes Jesus in the catholic religion, who is considered the lamb of god which represents innocence.
With that in mind, Blake is trying to show that the child has lost all of his innocence by his head being shaved without his consent and he makes it quite clear that little Tom Dacre is upset about losing his hair. However, it can also be perceived in a different light in that a lamb has a lot of fur which is being compared to the boy stating that he has a lot of hair which can represent youthfulness. Finally, Blake’s use of colors and adjectives in the poem are very helpful in showing contrast between innocence and death in the readers mind.
For example, in the third stanza Blake writes “Were all of them lock’d up in coffins of black” (Blake 12). The color black can represent several different things, it puts the read under the impression that the children in the poem are in a dark place and it also shows the reader that the only way for the children to escape their misery is death. That being said, it is shown in the fourth stanza when Blake writes, “And by came an Angel who had a bright key”.
Blake’s use of the adjective bright provides the reader with the idea of the children being saved which could show they are being brought up to heaven because it is known that people say there is a light at the end of the tunnel, or that they see a bright white light once they die. Another way Blake used colors to put an impression on the reader is when he writes “Then naked and white” (Blake 17), the fact that they happen to be naked and white shows that they are just as innocent as they were when they are first born which was stolen from them once they were sold by their parents.
In conclusion, Blake’s use of onomatopoeia, symbolism, colors and adjectives is effective in presenting the feelings of devastation in a child when they are sold by their own parents and are introduced into a cruel world of child labour. William Blake proves how a child’s innocence can be taken away so easily without them even realizing and that our society is completely ignorant towards child labour that sometimes the only thing they can look up too for optimism is their faith in god.