Blakes London

Essay by kjjb June 2004

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Written during the Romantic Rebellion, William Blake's poem London takes his readers on a journey through the "chartered" section of the city of London, a place where the poor and destitute are forced to live. Blake uses this piece to depict eighteenth century London, where social inequalities, corrupt churches, and the exploitation of the poor were very prevalent. Blake uses lots of symbolism to express his melancholy and seemingly hopeless view of those who are doomed to endure living in such an abject society, inflicted upon them mostly by their religion and their government.

In the first stanza, Blake sets the tone of the poem by describing the "marks" of sorrow and grief on the faces of everyone he encounters. The "marks" depict the misery of those who are set apart from the wealthy, and forced to live a life where there is no hope for the enhancement of social status.

The "chartered" streets of London symbolize the social inequalities that existed between those in power and those who must live life at the mercy of those in power.

The second stanza describes the state of the people in this impoverished section of London. While taking the journey through this impoverished section of London, you can hear the cries and woes of the people. Blake states he can hear the "mind-forg'd manacles" of the people. He believes these shackles are created by their religion, which tells them if they continue to be happy with their work and social status they will be rewarded in their afterlife. This cause the people of London's lower class to submit to the cruel conditions of they were forced to live under. The "mind-forg'd" shackles symbolize the oppression placed upon the people of London by their own religion.

In stanza two Blaze uses very...