William Blake's The Chimney Sweeper is a striking representation of life in England in the late 1700s. The main theme of this poem is lost childhood innocence. This poem deals with the abusive treatment of children when they were sold by their parents to work in dangerous conditions as chimney sweepers . This poem reflects the author's views on England's lack of compassion, all while displaying a tone of religious relief to children put into these awful circumstances. Blake uses many literary elements including the explanation of thematic issues, visual and rhythmic structure, sound devices, and figures of speech to help the reader develop a clear understanding of The Chimney Sweeper. .
The Chimney Sweeper is a narrative poem that tells the story of young Tom Dacre. There is no defined setting to this poem. The speaker is a coworker of Tom's who takes care of him, and is also young enough to be in the same position as him . The story explains that Tom's mother died and his father sold him to become a chimney sweeper at a very young age. The speaker narrates to the reader Tom's story while being a friend to Tom, comforting him when he is down. The poem mainly focuses on one night where Tom has a dream. In his dream, Tom sees an Angel who gives joyous freedom to all of the chimney sweepers. Then the Angel explains to Tom that he should do his job and he will always have God as his father; he will always have Heaven to look forward to. His interactions with God and the Angel sadly help Tom realize that he may never experience true joy, he must just anticipate it until his afterlife.
The main visual structure of The Chimney Sweeper is the strophic arrangement of the poem. The stanzas are arranged in six sections each containing a quatrain. Line break patterns exist throughout the poem for grammatical help and visual use. The first four stanzas do not include an end stop until the final lines, each line just continues onto the next using commas or semi-colons.