The narrative “The Chimney Sweeper” written by William Blake reflects history and the hardships that often occurred due to child abuse. This narrative has historical context, which makes the narrative interesting because it’s about a real life conflict. Blake wrote about what he saw when he looked outside his window, and the emotion it brought to him. As you read “The Chimney Sweeper” it is easy to visualize the way that these young orphans lived. Lines eleven through twenty in the narrative are symbolic and interesting. “And by came an angel who had a bright key”.
This line shows the hope that the children had in survival. This line also seems to alter the mood of the narrative because the child in the story is trying to think in a positive way about his day-to-day duties. “The Chimney Sweeper” as past history explains what children used to have to do for work, and the terrible conditions they were expected to live in, and reflects historical context from the late 1700’s to the early 1800’s. Children around the age of seven, but could be as young as the age of five, were expected to sweep chimneys.
Those children were put into horrible conditions mainly due to the fact that they were orphans. Those who were forced to do these jobs were paid as little as twenty shillings, and if the child was not an orphan the money went directly to his family. The child normally was a sweep for around seven years due to the fact that he or she became too big to fit up inside the chimney. The children had to shave their heads and use soot from the chimneys as pillows as they slept at night, which led to many serious diseases.
Chimney sweeping damaged children for life due to twisted knee caps and spines and many children were ill from breathing in harsh dust or developed cancer of the scrotum. This was a specific type of cancer mainly developed by the sweeps due to inhaling of soot. If children didn’t develop cancer many left the sweeps with extreme respiratory problems. After learning about past history and what the main focus of the narrative is and why Blake wrote, the poem meant a lot more. This made the narrative have a lot more meaning because, this happened in England’s.
Although this narrative involves past information it also displays how serious child abuse can be. Understanding past history really brings meaning to the narrative and helps the reader to understand what Blake is trying to explain through his writings. Not knowing about this horrible time in England when children were chimney sweeps could make the narrative less emotional, and not as interesting to read. Blake writes about an angel because the little boy is naive and believes that if he follows the instructions of the adults he will get to heaven.
He shows hope at the end of the poem and demonstrates his innocence. William Blake was Unhappy with the conditions that those children had to survive in. Those children were physically and mentally abused, in a way that no human being should be treated. Children were frequently suffocated in the chimneys, and felt that believing in heaven was their only way to a better existence. Blake’s writings brought into perspective the reality of history during the eighteenth century.