In Blake's "London" the speaker connects various characters and socio/political institutions in order to critique the injustices perpetrated in England. The busy, commercial city of London functions as a space in which the speaker can imagine the inescapable interconnections of English institution and citizens. Although separated by differences of class and gender, the citizens of London brush up against each other so that the misery of the poor and dispossessed is a direct indictment of the callousness of the rich and powerful, f the institutions of state and religion.
The speaker of the poem emphasizes the social and economic differences that separate the citizens of London. By repeating the word "charter'd", he reminds the reader of the commercial nature of the city, the fact that portions of it are owned, and that not everyone has equal access to goods or property. In the first line of his poem as Blake speaks of how he is wandering through the "charter'd" streets, he is commenting on this commercial aspect of London.
As he moves on in his poem he also refers to the "charter'd" Thames, he is telling us in this second line that even a river which is a force of nature, is owned in London. When Blake says that he sees "marks of weakness, marks of woe" in "every face" he meets, he means that he can see how this commercialism is affecting everyone rich and poor.
Yet, despite the divisions that the word charter'd suggests, the speaker contends that no one in London, neither rich or poor, escapes a pervasive sense of misery and entrapment. The speaker talks of how in "every cry of every man" he hears the misery. Blake is once again reminding us that this is affecting everyone. As he goes on to comment on he...