The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake

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Discuss the theme of exploitation in "The Chimney  Sweeper"?

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William Blake wrote two poems entitled "The Chimney Sweeper." One appears in Songs of Innocence, and the other appears in Songs of Experience. Both poems deal with exploitation in the form of child labor. In the Songs of Innocence poem, the father sold his son to work as a chimney sweep when he was barely talking. The job of a chimney sweep was dirty and dangerous to health, as symbolized by the dream that "little Tom Dacre" has of "thousands of sweepers" being "lock'd up in coffins of black." This represents the early death these children would often succumb to due to accidents, illness from breathing in the soot, and poor living conditions ("in soot I sleep"). The children in the poem can only dream of what should the lot of any child: running on the grass, bathing in a river, and playing in the sunshine. The children are exploited because they are deprived of the normal joys of childhood and receive minimal care while earning money for their "masters."

In the poem from Songs of Experience ,...

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