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The Chimney Sweeper (Innocence) Analysis



Author: Poetry of William Blake Type: Poetry Views: 8032

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Songs of Innocence1789When 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 & in soot I sleep.Theres little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head

That curled like a lambs back was shav'd, so I said.

Hush Tom never mind it, for when your head's bare,

You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hairAnd so he was quiet. & that very night.

As Tom was a sleeping he had such a sight

That thousands of sweepers Dick, Joe, Ned, & Jack

Were all of them lock'd up in coffins of black,And by came an Angel who had a bright key

And he open'd the coffins & set them all free.

Then down a green plain leaping laughing they run

And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.Then naked & white, all their bags left behind.

They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind.

And the Angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy,

He'd have God for his father & never want joy.And so Tom awoke and we rose in the dark

And got with our bags & our brushes to work.

Tho' the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm

So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

wot da hell iz all dis?
yall stupid like totally dude
can I just get sum egg roools?
mudafaka I stick two chopstick up yo ayass
sumbooody told meh dat blake gave tom dacre a blow jobby
plz can u clarifie

| Posted on 2016-03-22 | by a guest


.: :.

Very helpful, lovely site
Ok what I feel is dat if the chimney sweepers did their work diligently , they\'re goin 2 get diseases . So how on earth r they goin 2 have a better life ahead . My point of view is it wasn\'t a satisfactory end

| Posted on 2012-04-03 | by a guest


.: :.

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| Posted on 2011-12-08 | by a guest


.: :.

Blake\'s time DID see a lot of child labour, so I don\'t see the point earlier made saying that child labour was only about in the victorian ages, no It\'s not interesting. Blake believed (rightly) that the church at this time was very corrupt, he had nothing against religion, he was a devout christian, but he didn\'t believe in organised religion. The church was controlled by the monarchy, and the monarchy did nothing to help these children when they needed it most, so I don\'t see how the church was helping at all? This poem is riddled with sarcasm at how the church promises a brilliant after life but we are not told what is good? How is the child supposed to behave? Is he supposed to be a good boy and obey the masters who put his life in danger every day and force him to live in squalor, or does the child have to be a good person, but not constantly obey his master doing so. It is a sick example of how children were brainwashed in those days.

| Posted on 2011-06-01 | by a guest


.: :.

whoever commented that first one on the top is really an idiot totally missed the purpose of the writing. not supposed to be taken literally ...tard

| Posted on 2011-02-25 | by a guest


.: :.

In the last paragraph, 'so if all do their duty they need not fear harm' is not a satisfactory conclusion for the poem bcoz if the children do their work properly, they will inhale toxic gases & face premature death and if they do not do their work properly the officers/managers/the persons incharge will make them suffer by beating them or not giving them no food.Thats what i understood.

| Posted on 2010-07-25 | by a guest


.: :.

Asif Jordan once said, “Under the surface of contradiction, lays similarities”. Also, Newton’s third law states that “for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction.” If you combine these two thoughts together, you could come up with something along the lines of “under the surface of similarity, contradictions lie”. I believe that this final thought sums up William Blake’s poems “The Chimney Sweeper” and “The Chimney Sweeper” perfectly. While the inspiration for both these poems is the same, as with their titles, the thoughts behind them could not be more different.
The first poem of “The Chimney Sweeper” was written in 1789. The tone of this poem is one of recovering hope and positive thinking in a potentially awful situation. The narrative of a young boy shows one of acceptance to pass over and is not afraid of his imminent death from the tragic lifestyle he is living. He has a mature attitude that hopes to make for the best. As the poem continues, the use of the word “And” is repeated at the beginning of almost every line, almost seeming as if the author is using the thought process of a child, saying what they think and then adding another thought. With this use of assonance, the soft “A” vowel makes almost an “ah” and seems to almost calm the reader, especially after the tragic third stanza with four dead children.
In Blake’s second poem of “The Chimney Sweeper” that was written in 1794, the three stanza poem is one of sheer sadness and anger. Similar to the Blake’s first poem, the first three stanzas are unpleasant, however, in this second poem; there are no other stanza’s to end optimistically. The poem’s tone is one of an angry child that seems to be angry at all that are close to him and his family. The child narrative seems to be filled with hate at his parents who “are both gone up to the church to pray”. These both represent how the parents aren’t working and his anger with them since they could be working. It could parallel Blake’s frustration with the church during the 1790’s. Since there was major corruption with the English Church during the 1800’s it is very probable that Blake noticed this and that he was inspired by it. More so with the word “pray”, its homophone “prey” could represent the child and how the child has become the “prey” of civilization, doing one of the most dangerous jobs in a city while the parents pray for a change. I believe that Blake had been influenced by his society and has a more experienced point of view and let it show through his child’s eyes. As with the first poem, Blake adds several lines that begin with the word “And”. This not only, once again, adds a form of assonance, it shows that in a five year time period, the child narrative did not get better at speaking, which could be due to lack of an education, because he was chimney sweeping. The assonance that was added does not seem to be a calming “ah” noise but maybe more of an older sigh of annoyance. The tone of voice that the author uses toward the end of the poem seems to be one of sarcasm, speaking of how “And because I am happy, and dance, and sing”. It is all about false appearances to his parents. Which, once again, leaves the reader in a sorrowful and sympathetic tone.
Overall, appearances can be deceiving. While one may think that two different poems with the same title written by the same author may be similar, there may be more underneath. While “The Chimney Sweeper” and “The Chimney Sweeper” are similar in that they are both relating the hard times that the child of England faced, they both have their own style, tone, and messages that they are trying to cross.

| Posted on 2009-10-25 | by a guest


.: :.

i need the real meaning of this poem i need it analyse and simplified cuz for english course wrk

| Posted on 2009-07-03 | by a guest


.: :.

Life itself is the bondage to the needs. We are obligated to our basic instincts. A man in obligation is a man in bondage. Here, at the very beginning of the poem, the death of mother is a sign of ultimate downfall of the child to the world of slavery which simultaneously confirmed the alienation of the child from the protected world of mother. In a sense, protection secures the presence of freedom. And freedom (of life), in the poem, is sold when father marketed the child after the unexpected death of mother and brought the child down the road to perdition by making him a simple commodity. So there is an apparent disunity between the mother and the father figure. Because a child without mother is much more vulnerable in the world rather than a child having mother. In fact, mother to a child is the resort to learn the art of survival with no fear. Contrary to this fact the father figure in this poem is nothing but a fear for the child because the father sold him into the market without feeling any scruple and gave him a life of chimney sweep, in a sense a life covered with soot. Interestingly the color of soot is black and black is the color of bondage since the word ‘black’ is connected to slavery and at that time blackening was the only way to make one slave. The important thing is the transformation of the child from one stage to another, from white to black and simultaneously from freedom to bondage. He was free when he was with his mother and he was enslaved when he lost his mother. So there is a logical consequence in between this metamorphosis of the child’s life. But from the perspective of the child, one thing is apparent that mother means security, mother means freedom.
We get another reference of death and bondage in third stanza. ‘Coffins of black’ is the phrase used here. The word ‘coffin’ is connected to death and the word ‘black’, as mentioned earlier, is connected to bondage. That means this is not a reference of ordinary coffins, this is a reference of corrective centre for little chimney sweeps longing for freedom. ‘And by came an angel’ with a bright key to free them. Significantly, the color of key is bright because brightness is sign of freedom. But it is not a poem of emancipation; it is a poem of submission. That may be the reason the freedom is again threatened at the last stanza when we, readers, once again see little chimney sweeps going to work with bags and brushes, a great burden and a sign of their bondage, full of misery, on their back.
Dominance is impossible without complete effacement of sense of self-respect and in this poem this effacement is done through consolations and false hopes to reduce the intensity of pain of these young chimney sweeps. So the poem ends with admonition and false consolation.

| Posted on 2009-06-22 | by a guest


.: :.

Here is my analysis:
The Chimney Sweeper emulates the life of a deprived child, whose only voice is the uttered cry, ‘weep weep’. To exemplify the malady of the 18th Century, Blake does not divulge the cause of the mother’s death; only that she perished when ‘I was very young’. This solitude that the child endures is heightened when the emotionally-depleted father ‘sold me while yet my tongue could scarcely cry’. Due to the child being mute during this daunting period, the reader is made aware that this child was dispatched during babyhood. Blake consistently conjugates the innocence of children with that of the Lamb. The lamb is a martyr: it is Christ, and because the child’s woollen hair ‘was shaved’, we witness the debasement of innocence, as the pure white is tainted by the oppressive ‘soot’, and ‘coffins of black’. All of these children, imprisoned in soot and labour, are visited by an ‘angel’ bearing a ‘bright key’. This alludes to the prominent Christian theology, as the children believe wholeheartedly that should they die under such torment, ‘they need not fear harm’. This could be perceived as either positive or cynical: the phrase, ‘need not fear harm’, is menacing, as well as reassuring. Just as the creatures are commonly illustrated as sporting across the green, in The Chimney Sweeper, the children, in Heaven, will be free to roam the evergreen, and ‘wash in a river and shine in the sun’ (alludes to the Holy river). To unite all of these children, Blake presents them with typical London names, such as ‘Jack’, and ‘Joe’ – this represents a whole group of children, whose diligence, perseverance and hope is experienced by all. Despite the bitter cold, they feel ‘warm’, and, ‘rose in the dark’, awaiting the future light.

| Posted on 2009-04-27 | by a guest


.: :.

Every time I peruse the eliteskills pages, I find that I leave bitterly disappointed. I will post a cohesive and lucid interpretation shortly; I hope it will help some of you in your studies.

| Posted on 2009-04-27 | by a guest


.: :.

what idiots... why would you argue about the meaning of a poem unless you're either a nerd, or you don't have any friends.

| Posted on 2009-04-21 | by a guest


.: :.

THIS IS VERY HELPFUL!
Blake, being the narrator, enters the mind of a chimney sweeper and expresses himself through his own experience and Tom Dacre, another deprived child. By being sold into child labour, Blake tries to portray the difficulty in which he encountered as a child, “And my father sold me while yet my tongue Could scarcely cry 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!” We understand from poverty, parents tend to discard their infants for small amounts of riches. The narrator’s father had sold him while very young. Blake uses repetition of the word weep to emphasise on the crying of the child through its misery. The whimper not only symbolises the cries of the child, but involves a double meaning where the word weep also means sweep, giving the suggestion of a chimney sweeper on duty. Furthermore, there is a third meaning to the repeated words where the apostrophes suggest the children are too young to pronounce the letter s. While still in the first two lines of the poem, we already grasp Blake’s sentiment on the eighteenth century London city.

| Posted on 2009-04-18 | by a guest


.: :.

ok im just gonna do a basic translation to see if it helps anyone if not ok do it yourself lol....
the young sweepers mother dies while he is very young and his dad sells him for money or either just makes him work and takes his money.And his father does this before he can barely yell "'weep 'weep..." (sweep)and so your chimneys he sweeps and covered in soot he sleeps.this is just the first stanza i dont have time to type the rest but ill update it soon

| Posted on 2009-04-15 | by a guest


.: :.

From Associated Content : x understands that the words "innocence" and "experience" seem to completely oppose each other, and he skillfully portrays this contrast. However, a closer examination of the poems from each section reveals that these two perspectives are equally important and inseparable.
Blake's poems present a contradiction between the states of innocence and experience, two phases through which all people must pass. The two sets of poems juxtapose the untainted, naturalistic world of childhood against the adult world of corruption and restraint. Blake does not ally himself completely with one particular view; in fact many of the poems are written in the voice of a separate speaker, thus somewhat disconnecting the poet from his narratives. It is as if Blake hopes to identify the fallacies and flaws of each.
He does not present the two viewpoints with intention to persuade the reader into choosing between them, for Blake believes that no such choice is possible. Rather her decides to simply portray each point of view, infusing his poems with the idea that innocent bliss is not necessarily superior to the anguish of experience.
Blake's Songs of Innocence depict the naiveté that permeates the hopes and fears of young children before they have begun their progression to adulthood. One particular poem that exhibits this is the Innocence version of The Chimney Sweeper. The setting of this poem is 18th century London, where it was quite common to find parents selling their children into apprenticeships as chimney sweeps. It was not unusual to find chimney sweeps as young as four years of age, as such small children could maneuver more easily within a chimney than could an adult.

| Posted on 2009-04-14 | by a guest


.: :.

I think it could also be seen as an anti-slavery text. It raises the question of who is responsible for these acts, the church, the king, God, anyone who hired chimney sweepers, anyone who sold chimney sweepers.

| Posted on 2009-04-06 | by a guest


.: :.

There is a political backgound of England during Blake's time. Here in this poem, the poet portrays the poverty and sufferings of lower class people. They are forced to sell their children to earn their livelihoods. We can clearly see the pictures of child trafficking in this poem.

| Posted on 2009-01-10 | by a guest


.: :.

I believe that Blake is using satire and the children represent those who have faith and hope of an after life. But some of you people need to research the facts during the industrial age and stop blaming the church for the abuse of the children who were chimney sweepers. THE CHURCH WAS TRYING TO PUSH TO PASS THE LAWS THAT STOP CHILD LABOR.

| Posted on 2008-12-09 | by a guest


.: :.

wot da damn reviews people gives over here....da poem is about sweepers ha ha ha....

| Posted on 2008-11-24 | by a guest


.: :.

I did not find this analysis very useful and did not find it relevent to the poem

| Posted on 2008-11-12 | by a guest


.: :.

The aim of The Chimney Sweeper is not to sympathise with chimney sweepers; nor is it to attack the church. Blake simply writes his two different Chimney Sweeper poems to discuss two different outlooks on God. In the Songs of Innocence poem, God is seen as a saviour, one who can set people free - as seen by the angel unlocking sweepers from their coffins - and who wants a relationship with his children. The Songs of Experience poem, however, depicts a more bitter view on God. The child in this poem blames his parents and "God & his Priet & King" for making "up a heaven of our misery". Rather than viewing God as someone who wants a relationship, He is portrayed as the destroyer of this person's life. (That may be a little harsh, actuall.) The child doesn't see, like Tom Dacre does, that God isn't interested in rules and laws of the church, but wants to be his Father.

| Posted on 2008-09-13 | by a guest


.: :.

The post about Blake's life as a chimney sweep is a beautiful satire, kudos to the author, haha.
The poem is definitely ironic, specifically with regard to the naive view of the narrator in the last line. This is Blake's subtle stab at the tyranny of religious structures such as the church and the many false hopes it offered people at the time.

| Posted on 2008-08-25 | by a guest


.: :.

What i think is interesting that most of the employment of chimney kids were during the victorian times and well that was many year after this poem was published. interesting isnt it!!!

| Posted on 2008-05-24 | by a guest


.: :.

if the chimney sweepers obey god then they will 'not fear harm', quite ironic as Blake had a very negative view of the church in some poems.

| Posted on 2008-05-19 | by a guest


.: :.

poetry is totally confusing like totally dudes
yall are a bunch of poetry freaks
fighting ova a poem and stuff

| Posted on 2008-04-23 | by a guest


.: My point of view :.

Could it be that this is Blake's way of saying to the poor child that only God can help you - and then only after you die - and don't expect any justice from your miserable plight in this life because it is not going to happen? So be good and accept your lot in life, and it will be much easier if you do.

| Posted on 2008-02-08 | by a guest


.: oh dear :.

i found most of these analysis' usefull, however the one about Blake's true life as a sweeper made me laugh but that was its only use.
On with the analysis.
Blake's attack on the church is represented by the angel figure. As deceptive as the church can be, the angel exemplifies the false promise of afterlife bliss. The angel claims that only if the sweeper is 'a good boy' the child will be content ' never want of joy'. Blake shows his indignation of this concept through the use of irony; 'so if all do their duty they need not fear harm'children should be cherished not abused, their innocence should be preserved, not exploited. There fore their injust plight should not be treated as a way to earn a pleasant afterlife. Their treatment should be viewed as abhorent and discontinued.

| Posted on 2007-09-27 | by a guest


.: Blake :.

Blake infact uses irony in the innocence poem, instead of it being the so called "protectors of the poor" church, it is a fellow chimney sweeper that cheers up little tommy dacre. Blake here is trying to emphasize that there is good and innocence found in the world, that if the children can imaginatively transcend their social boundaries then they "need not fear harm"

| Posted on 2007-09-15 | by a guest


.: :.

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| Posted on 2007-05-27 | by a guest


.: :.

blake was never a chimney sweep nor is he showing empathy for chimney sweeps. he simply uses the sweeper as a figure to represent social injustice and religious allegory. blake was a mystic who commonly satirized religion in his poems ie: 'the marriage of heaven and hell'. the children represent people who submit to the laws of religion in hopes that they will receive the benefit of an after-life. he illustrates his point in lines 13-16. "And by came an Angel who had a bright key, and he opened the coffins and set them free; then down a green plain leaping, laughing, they run, and wash in the river, and shine in the sun." the fact that the church is supposed to protect children from these sort of injustices, but rather plays a part in the enslavement of the children strengthens his argument. im tired of writing... this poem can also be looked at from a political point of view.

| Posted on 2007-04-03 | by a guest


.: blake - chimney sweep :.

this analysis is absolutely wrong. blake was not a chimney sweep and the analysis seems to be satirical rather than serious. it should be removed:

the poem is true to life account of what Blake was suffering from at the time. It is common knowledge that Blakes parentes forced him to be a chimney sweeping boy, they even donned him in the little hat that most of this callibre seemed to be fashioning. Dick, Joe,Ned and Jack where his buddies and helped him sweep. They got up to many an adventure up numerous chimneys and by gum did they have some tails to tell. Jack would talk for hours on the immense fun had, includung witty comments and puns whenever possible. A lot of the time they were naked and this represents innocence as they were to innocent to buy clothing, baring obviously the hats.
The last line "they do not fear harm" emphasises the fact that the four of them were a force to be reckoned with and no one could harm them, if they tried then they may appear as a character in one of jack's stories


| Posted on 2006-07-29 | by Approved Guest


.: From another angle :.

Blake in 'The Chimney Sweeper' poems shows his empathy for those children who had to earn their living by sweeping chimneys of the factories and the households forgetting their childhood joys and enjoyments at such a tender age when they can not even utter their professional cry 'sweep'. Therefore in the first poem the apperance of the Angel and Tom Dacre's spiritual rejuvenation may seem to be the ray of hope and a happy ending to the poem. But if we think it from another angle we shall see that when Tom Dacre's head is shaved he wants 2 protect himself for he wants to keep his hair which means he is going against the tradition and becoming a bad boy. And if we link it with the angel's blessing that "if he'd be a good boy", we shall realize that the angel voices the 'discourse of the master class'. The ideology of the master chimney sweep is strengthened by the angel's utterance. In a world only those persons are good only who will obey the tradition established by the persons who are in the Power centre. Therefore when the angel says that "they need not fear harm" it sounds more like a threat to those who opposes the powerful class than a fantastic moral suggestion to the human beings in general.

| Posted on 2006-07-21 | by Approved Guest


.: Thoughts :.

The chimney Sweepers of Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experoience are a literary device by which he shows his change in view in regard to religion. In the first version God is seen as a protector of dreams and aspirations, something which the hardships of life cannot erase. However in the second the establishment of the church is criticised as it's ceremonies restrict the natural joy and beauty of the world. He also criticises suffering in the world and how some aspects of christianity seem to welcome it as a form od redemption. Both poems were written by Blake to show his support for the laws which were being passed at this time to protect the sweepers.

| Posted on 2006-06-20 | by Approved Guest


.: :.

Well I'd have to say the first two explanations and analysis comments helped me out trememdously. However, the last two comments must have been written in a foreign language of some kind or was repeated too much. I am not sure what the third one is trying to say, for numerous accounts of repetitiveness do not comprehend well in my mind. Therefore, I ask you last guest, to please make your future explanations less repetitive, and in the language of English. Thank you.


| Posted on 2006-02-05 | by Approved Guest


.: This is Crazy! :.

The Chimney Sweeper: Compared and Contrasted

In 1789 and 1794, romantic poet William Blake wrote two verses concerning the condition of chimney sweeps. The two poems differ considerably, but are also similar in numerous ways. Blake wanted to inform his audience of the terrible state of the chimney sweeps. William Blake uses various poetic techniques in each adaptation of “The Chimney Sweeper”; each poem has a different perspective used to illustrate the meaning of the poem.
The first adaptation of “The Chimney Sweeper” is from Songs of Innocence and through the literary devices that Blake uses, this can be easily identified. The 1789 version is much more flowing than and almost twice as long as the second. Halfway through the first adaptation, there is a tonal shift. Through the beginning, the tone is very tragic and pessimistic. Written in third person, the poem is omniscient in viewpoint; the narrator knows about the subject’s thoughts and dreams. Tom, the subject of the 1789 version has lived a life full of hardship. His mother dies, and his father sells him as a chimney sweep. Tom has a dream one night that thousands of sweepers, including his friends, have died. In the midst of all of this hardship, the tone dramatically shifts. An angel brings Tom a message of hope; the Angel claims that the boys will be rewarded in heaven for all of their hard work: “if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.” This optimistic view echoes the naivety of Tom, who does not seem to be concerned with the present time, only the fact that the Angel has told him that his life will be better in the future. The sound of the first poem is also very euphonious and flowing. Words such as “boy,” “joy,” “run,” and “sun” flow softly and smoothly in the first poem. This aids to the airy and light feel of this Song of Innocence.
The second adaptation of “The Chimney Sweeper” is from Songs of Experience and Blake shows this through his many differing literary devices. This version seems to be told from experience with life, as it does not focus on a specific character and, instead, seemingly tells the story of a meaningless chimney sweep. The sweeper is called a “little black thing,” showing Blake’s pessimistic attitude toward the chimney sweep business. The language of the second account helps to portray chimney sweeping in a depressing light. The narrator’s sweeping rags are referred to as “the clothes of death.” The speaker is extremely pessimistic towards the afterlife, showing further the poem’s relevance to Songs of Experience. As a reader, it can be inferred that through experience, the narrator of this poem has developed an ill outlook of the afterlife.
While vastly different from one another, each “The Chimney Sweeper” poem is also very similar. The references to religious ideas and symbols are consistent throughout both poems. In addition to offering the slightest bit of hope to the subjects of the poems, the religious symbolism is also reflective of the time period in which the poems were written. Both poems also use word sounds to reflect which book of songs (Innocence or Experience) that they are from.

| Posted on 2005-12-20 | by Approved Guest


.: :.

the poem is true to life account of what Blake was suffering from at the time. It is common knowledge that Blakes parentes forced him to be a chimney sweeping boy, they even donned him in the little hat that most of this callibre seemed to be fashioning. Dick, Joe,Ned and Jack where his buddies and helped him sweep. They got up to many an adventure up numerous chimneys and by gum did they have some tails to tell. Jack would talk for hours on the immense fun had, includung witty comments and puns whenever possible. A lot of the time they were naked and this represents innocence as they were to innocent to buy clothing, baring obviously the hats.
The last line "they do not fear harm" emphasises the fact that the four of them were a force to be reckoned with and no one could harm them, if they tried then they may appear as a character in one of jack's stories

| Posted on 2005-11-17 | by Approved Guest




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