William Blake’s “London” takes place in the city; there is a sense of criticism the speaker advocates upon entering the city. The initial setting of the poem is, “Near where the charte’d Thames does flow” (Line 2). The speaker is giving readers an image of confinement. He is stating that the river, buildings, and people are restricted and there is little freedom. Charter is a government issued document that gives rights to people. The speaker is depicting a sad society by telling readers that the people have “marks of weakness” and “marks of woe” expressions (Line 4). Blake is illustrating that the limitations of people in London have led them to be unhappy. Blake looks to drill this sense of restraint and confinement into our head by stating that, “In every voice: in every ban, / The mind-forg’d manacles I hear”, he believes London citizens are constrained in a way that is similar to handcuffs (Line 8).
The poem shifts to the way children are affected by the restricted society. “How the Chimney-sweepers cry/ Every blackning Church appalls,” (Line 9) points out that children are being subdued to a life of limitation at a very young age. This limitation in children is leading to a more corrupt society. Children are no longer playing outside and becoming in touch with nature. Instead, children are forced to work as chimneysweepers and live lives that do not promote creativity. Chimney sweeping is considered a dangerous job because of the soot and carcinogens. The children are being held to a darker life in the sense of less innocence and have little imagination to do what they please. The lack of freedom and confinement lead to corruption in the city.
“But most thro’ midnight streets I hear/ How the youthful Harlot’s curse” (Lines…
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– Blake, William. “The Tyger.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 May 2014. .
– Wordsworth, William. “It is a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 May 2014. .
– Wordsworth, William. “My Heart Leaps Up” Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 20 May 2014. .
– Wordsworth, William. “The World Is Too Much With Us.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 May 2014. .