London Essay, Research Paper
In London, William Blake portrays a very dark and abysmal picture of London. Throughout the whole poem, Blake never mentions a positive scene. The poem seems to deal with the lower class part of society, the part which lives in the poor neighborhoods. The first stanza begins with the speaker wandering around London. Throughout the poem, Blake repeats a word which he used in one line, in the next line. An example of this can be seen in the first two lines. He uses the word chartered in the first line without any deep meaning to it, but the use of the word charted in the next line shows that the Thames was set up so that somehow people control where it flows. In the next few lines, the speaker talks about all the negative emotions which he sees in the people on the street, “In every cry of every man,/ In every infant s cry of fear,/ In every voice, In every ban,/ The mind-forged manacles I hear.” In the final line of the first stanza, the speaker says that he hears the mind-forged manacles. The mind-forged manacles are not real. By this I mean that they are created in the mind of those people whom the speaker sees on the streets. Those hopeless and depressing thoughts, in turn imprison the people whom the speaker sees on the street. When the speaker says that he can hear the “mind-forged manacles” he doesn t mean that he can literally hear the mind forged manacles but that he can hear the cries of the people which show their mind-forged manacles. In the second stanza, the speaker focuses on two specific occupations, the chimney sweeper and the soldier. The word blackening in the second line of the 3rd stanza is used in an interesting context. Why would a church be blackening? Blackening can mean getting dirty, but I don t think that the speaker is using the word blackening in that sense. I think it means that the church doesn t want to dirty it s hands on the chimney sweeper s problems. In the next sentence, there is a similar relationship between the soldier and the palace. The word palace is capitalized, which probably means that Blake is referring to Buckingham Palace. Hapless means unfortunate. So the unfortunate soldier is probably the one s who s blood is running down the palace walls. His sigh, might mean the air which he is exhaling while dying.
In the final stanza, Blake talks about how “the youthful harlot s curse…..And blights with plagues the marriage hearse.” He says that this is a common thing “but most through midnight streets I hear.” The word midnight has the connotations of dark, kind of scary. So it can probably be taken that this is not a upper-class area. The “youthful harlot s curse” means that the harlot has Gonorrhea, which explains why the baby has a problem with it s eyes. And this would mean that the man also has probably gotten the disease and this would cause problems within the marriage. Blake uses the word hearse to describe the marriage cause a hearse is a coffin. In other words the marriage is dead.
Blake s poem is not a very uplifting, but it does however show the various problems which the slums and lower-class sections of London faced. The poems shows the relationships between the authority figures, the church and Palace, and the workers, the chimney sweeper and the soldier. The poem may not be inspirational but it does give a real life account of the poor conditions of the majority of people in London.