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The Chimney Sweeper By William Blake's: Poetry Analysis

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Thesis Statement: In combining irony, symbols, rhythm, and disturbingly dramatic imagery, William Blake’s “The Chimney Sweeper” criticizes society’s indifference “toward” social injustice. According to (https:// “, this” story is such a sad and disturbing poem about the abuse of little children who were forced to become sweeps by their parents in this era. Blake has described the misery that was faced by the children of London, who’s poor and impoverished parents sold them for a small amount of money, to become chimney sweepers. Putting their little lives at stake and their fears of dark were enhanced, which is very common with little children, because they were made to climb the chimneys and clean them even on severely cold days.

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  • I. Introduction
    • A. “The Chimney Sweeper” is an outlook on the life of a chimney sweeper.
      • 1. The poem’ appears to express anger and resentment.
      • 2. The poem’s mood is depressing.
      • 3. Thesis statement.
  • II. Stanzas 1and 2
    • A. The poem has a dramatic opening.
    • B. In stanza 1, the author expresses disdain toward society’s indifference.
    • C. The author’s choice of words in stanza 2 gets stronger with the perceived horror of what’s to come.
    • D. Stanza 2 ends with an ironic sense of optimism.
  • III. Stanzas 3and 4
    • A. Stanzas 3and4 effectively use imagery to build up on the expressed optimism.
    • B. Tom appears to be oblivious to the full meaning of his dream.
    • C. In stanza 4, the author expresses that Tom’s only true hope is death.
  • IV. Stanzas5and6
    • A. Stanzas 4and5 make use of slant rhymes, which serve to enhance the perception that something is not right.
    • B. Stanza 5continues to use imagery, but now expresses that even the hope of death is conditional.
    • C. The poem’ sending is filled with tragic irony, as the very job Tom hopes to do well doing ultimately is responsible for taking his life.
  • V. Conclusion

A. By making use of pauses to create rhythm throughout his poem, William Blake is able to keep the readers wanting to know what happens next.

In the chimney sweeper the theme of the poem seem to be about the inevitable loss of a child’s innocence. It describes, from the point of view of a young, innocent chimney sweeper. The chimney sweepers, once innocent and happy children, are now tainted with experience. In stanzas 1 the story opens with the poet telling its audience how his mother died when he was young. When my mother died I was very young, and my father sold me while yet my tongue could scarcely cry “’weep! ’Weep! ’Weep! ’Weep! “So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep – (William Blake 1757-1827). It may have been a foster father who convinced the boy Tom by selling him to a Master chimney sweeper. “There’s little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head that curled like a lamb’s back, was shaved, so I said, “Hush, Tom! Never mind it, for when your head’s bare, you know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair” – (William Blake (1757-1827). Tom was called ‘Dacre’ because had belonged to Lady Dacre’s Almshouse, which was between St. James Street and Buckingham Road as stated in ( As I read stanzas 2-4 the poet tells the reader more about his childhood and as it so happens his father sold him before he could speak. When it states: “And my father sold me while yet my tongue could scarcely cry” (William Blake 1757-1827). When the author of the poem uses “tongue” he is using it in a way to help the reader understand the voice of the speaker of the poem. Back in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, most chimney sweepers or people who cleaned chimneys were very young boys, because they were small enough and could climb up the chimney with no problems like getting stuck. So I’m thinking that the boy’s father sold his child to someone who ran a chimney-cleaning business. Because when the reader reads the poem, the poet tells us that because his father sold him, he sweeps chimneys, and sleeps in soot ( If I may add children during Blake’s time were treated unfairly because no one care for the poor children. There was a lot of taxation because of the government, donations for leaders of the church and loans pay by poor people to rich people. This is the reason why the child in the poem sorrowfully says that the church has made up a heaven of their misery. In stanza 3, a change happens in a way that portrays hope and the potential escape for the young children when tom has a dream about his fellow sweeper dying and placed in a black coffin. However, it’s not the chance that we would expect to happen with these children because the “coffins in black” that all the children were locked into that the author is referring to in stanza 3 represents the miserable fate for the chimney-sweeping children ( In stanza 4 it is filled with more hope as it pertains to the coffin as the poem says that the children will be set free when they die and go to heaven were they are happy and would feel no more pain. In stanza 4 there is also mention of the unlocking of coffins by an angel and being washed clean in a river. As a reader of the poem one can interpret this as Christian allusions to Christ’s resurrection and baptism. The beginning of the fifth stanza mentions the boys in the dream were “naked and white, all their bags left behind.” Naked and white suggests innocence and purity. Baggage denotes sin and the cares of the world as it states in ( ‘Then naked and white, all their bags left behind, they rise upon cloud sand sport in the wind; and the angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy, He’d have God for his father, and never want joy’ (William Blake 1757-1827). In conclusion the dream that tom had was not real. It was however or may have been a religious man who came to them and told the children about the bright future in the afterlife. Tom and his friends can look forward to being at peace in heaven even though the hope of death is disturbing. The sound and the cadence of the poem sounds sweet and innocent, like the narrator himself. However, it is important to listen to what the poem and the chimney sweeper are saying. His parents do not hear his “weep” (


  1. Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi (eds.). ‘Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy L, object 7 (Bentley 12, Erdman 12, Keynes 12) ‘The Chimney Sweeper”. William Blake Archive. Retrieved 11/20/2019.
  2. M. H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt, ed. (2001). The Norton anthology of English literature (7th ed.). New York: Norton. ISBN 0393973042.
  3. Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi (eds.). ‘Comparison of Songs of Innocence’s ‘The Chimney Sweeper’ (of Innocence)’. William Blake Archive. Retrieved 11/20/2019.
  4. Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi (eds.). ‘Comparison of Songs of Innocence’s ‘The Chimney Sweeper’ (of Experience)’. William Blake Archive. Retrieved 11/20/2019.

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The Chimney Sweeper By William Blake’s: Poetry Analysis. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 30, 2023, from
“The Chimney Sweeper By William Blake’s: Poetry Analysis.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022,
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