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How does William Blake use satire within 'Songs of Innocence and of Experience'? Please...

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user1670568 | Honors

Posted April 12, 2013 at 9:37 AM via web

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How does William Blake use satire within 'Songs of Innocence and of Experience'? Please could you give some examples?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 12, 2013 at 11:35 AM (Answer #1)

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William Blake covers the spectrum from childhood - innocence- to adulthood - experience- in his Songs of Innocence and of Experience. He tries to remain separated so as not to cloud his views, using a speaker or narrator. Blake contrasts the two outlooks and whilst experience corrupts the innocent it can also compensate for a lack of insight obvious in children. Everything about "Songs" is satirical. The very things adults condemn are of their own making.  

The simple rhyme scheme used by Blake belies the serious nature of his poems which, without analysis seem to often lack deep meaning. Blake, however, conceptualizes all the forms of  abuse. There is the system of government - thus politically motivated - there is the Church and there are adults, generally, all of whom are painted using satire throughout. The Church, preaching values and morals has "blackening" walls in London.  

He covers serious issues such as politics, child labor - about which he felt very strongly,  and of course poverty. In The Chimney Sweeper, as Tom Dacre's innocence is all but destroyed and he is "crying,'weep weep,'" it is ironic that his parents can be found in church. Tom's demeanour gives the impression that there is no harm in child labor but Blake is scathing in his criticism.

In Holy Thursday, Tom Dacre takes it one step further as his parents "make up a heaven of our misery.”  The satirical edge suggests that all the adult forms - making up the "experience" are responsible for the sorry state of affairs.

In London, the "marriage hearse"reinforces Blake's anger with society for creating a world of contrary forces and for being responsible for "the youthful Harlot's curse." It is satirical because of the irony of the hypocrisy all around as man criticises fellow man and does not consider his own contribution. The "hapless soldier" entrenches the hopelessness of supporting the "monarchy (in England) as they live in their "palace"  and he fights to the death. 

Blake had visions from an early age and in "Songs" the image of man as a fallen god is itself ironic.

 

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