young boy in overalls and a hat walking with a chimney sweeping broom over his shoulder

The Chimney Sweeper

by William Blake
Start Free Trial

In "The Chimney Sweeper," why was Tom "happy and warm" although the "morning was cold"?

Tom is "happy and warm" although "the morning was cold" because he had a dream in which an angel told him that if he'd be a good boy he'd have God for a father and never want joy. In that dream, the angel also freed the other chimney-sweeps from coffins so they could go and play in the river.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In common with all child chimney-sweepers, Tom leads a pretty hard, miserable life. Forced to toil long hard hours each day in filthy, dangerous conditions for an absolute pittance, it's fair to say that he doesn't have much to look forward to in life. Blake was pretty scathing about the...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

In common with all child chimney-sweepers, Tom leads a pretty hard, miserable life. Forced to toil long hard hours each day in filthy, dangerous conditions for an absolute pittance, it's fair to say that he doesn't have much to look forward to in life. Blake was pretty scathing about the treatment of children in British society, and Tom the chimney-sweep is just one more tragic example of a society that treats its most vulnerable members with indifference and contempt.

And yet, despite his habitual ill-treatment, when Tom wakes up in the dark, ready for another day of back-breaking labor, he actually feels happy and warm. This is because the previous night he had a strange dream. In that dream, an angel of the Lord came down and unlocked the coffins in which tens of thousands of young sweepers had been imprisoned, releasing from their horrific confinement. Happy and free, the boys ran down to the river to wash and play in the water.

As for Tom, the angel told him that if he'd be a good boy he'd have God for a father and never want joy. This is a very happy ending to a very happy dream, and so Tom can be forgiven for feeling happy when he goes to work with the other chimney-sweeps in the cold, pitch-black morning.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team