The Chimney Sweeper
Literary analysis of The Chimney Sweeper
TENTATIVE THESIS STATEMENT: Two themes of the utmost importance to highlight are the oppression of innocent children and the conflict of commercial values versus human values. Blake uses homophones, similes, and metonymy, a type of metaphor, as literary devices to develop and emphasize these two themes.
A poetic analysis of “The Chimney Sweeper” for thesis development.
I. Children, especially the younger age group, do not necessarily understand what is right nor what is wrong. There is a level of innocence that is granted to every child. This poem showcases the oppression of such innocent children.
A. In a way, the father of the young sweep, whom happens to be the narrator, sells his son into slavery.
B. The Young Sweep is put to work before he can use or form proper words.
C. These innocent young children work and sleep in chimney soot. It appears that bathing is not something that is readily available.
II. Commercial values versus human values.
A. A dirty job has to be done. Who is supposed to do this job that no one wants to do?
B. It is a business or commercial advantage to be had by keeping most of the profits for the pockets of the owner while increasing production via enslaving poor innocent children. It is also an economic gain to feed small children than it is to feed adults.
III. Types of literary devices being used to emphasize these two themes: homophones, similes, and metaphors.
A. The use of the word ‘weep to mean sweep and to visualize the cry of the oppressed children is a wonderfully placed homophone.
B. The simile used to compare Tom Dacre’s hair to a lamb is a well placed correlation of innocence.
- 1 INTRODUCTION
- 2 BODY
- 3 Conclusion
1. There are multiple themes conveyed through a myriad of literary devices to note throughout “The Sweeper”.
2. Thesis statement – Two themes of the utmost importance to highlight are the oppression of innocent children and the conflict of commercial values versus human values. Blake uses homophones, similes, and metonymy, a type of metaphor, as literary devices to develop and emphasize these two themes.
1. First Main Idea: The first stanza illustrates the oppression of this poor young sweep
and the travesty of the sleeping conditions.
a. The narrator was sold at such a young age the word sweep could not even be uttered correctly hence the line “Could scarcely cry “‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep!” (Blake, 2018, p. 820). This is an example of a homophone.
b. Line four of the first stanza makes note of the horrid conditions in which the narrator is bound to, as soot seems to take the place of a comfortable bed or pillow. There is also some slight alliteration being used in line four with the words so, sweep, soot, and sleep. Line four is as follows: “So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep.” (Blake, 2018, p. 820).
2. Second main idea: The clash of commercial values and human values. a. Someone has to do the job of a chimney sweeper, however not at the expense of a proper childhood. The value of the lives of these children is nonexistent. They are used as cheap labor for a hazardous task, which makes the commercial value of these children extremely high while showcasing the lowly value of these kids as human beings.
b. These children are forced to breath in black soot at the cost of their health which ultimately leads to the loss of life at a young age. The dangers of this soot is highlighted in the third and fourth lines of stanza three, “That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack, Were all of them locked up in coffns of black.” (Blake, 2018, p. 821).
1. There are many travesties to note in this particular poem. The author, William Blake, portrays his logic very distinctly. The oppression of such innocent children is conveyed in such a way as to make the reader cringe with emotions of anger, sadness, and displeasure. These emotions lead to the reader’s contemplation of the commercial advantages of free labor and child abuse, and how they manipulate and affect society’s outlook on the view of human values concerning the less fortunate.
2. William Blake’s use of literary devices to emphasize these points are both entertaining and thought provoking.