William Blake's the Chimney Sweeper Term Paper

Total Length: 624 words ( 2 double-spaced pages)

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The fact that the unnamed narrator, who could not have been more than five or six years old, shows a young boy's chilling resignation to his fate.

These passages therefore show how thoroughly social conventions can "brainwash" society members, especially those who experience the most brutal oppression.

This acquiescence to social convention is seen most clearly in Tom Dacre's dream. The ideal of a boy playing and running shows by contrast how horrible the life of a chimney sweep is. Young boys should be "laughing in the sunshine," and not climbing chimneys. The fact that Tom and other chimney sweeps accept their existence as they "do their duty" highlight just how deeply-embedded the moral code of society is, from the acceptance of citizens and the tacit approval of institutions like the Church.

The last phrase "if all do their duty, they need not fear harm," has incorrectly been interpreted as an acceptance of society's moral code. However, this is clearly untrue, since even chimney sweeps that did their duty often experienced great harm. Tom Dacre and the poem's narrator are innocent victims, who are echoing the moral code learned at the hands of social institutions such as the Church.
Blake's The Chimney Sweep therefore holds a mirror to society, and asks readers to evaluate their culpability in the fate of these innocent boys. It is members of society who uphold a moral code that endorses unjust practices such as child labor. It is the members of society who perpetuate a system of poverty that forces parents to sell off their young children into labor. In The Chimney Sweep, Blake forces readers to contemplate their role in forcing five-year-olds like Tom Dacre to climb chimneys in the first place......

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