What is the theme of the poem The Chimney Sweeper?

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When you first read The Chimney Sweeper, you see it is about children. Since it is about children, you would think it would be about the innocence of childhood. In reality the theme is about the loss of innocence. It is a sad tale of children, who have no childhood at all.

The child in the poem is sold by his father, after his mother dies, into chimney sweeping. He befriends Tom Dacre, a boy who is upset because he has to have his head shaved. The speaker of the poem, tries his best to comfort Tom. After they realize that life is going to turn out okay for them, they get up and go back to work.

The theme of this poem is all about the loss of innocence for children. When mother's died, father's were usually left without a choice. They had no way to care for their children. Some of them felt they had no choice, other than sell their children for work. It is a heartbreaking poem of children who have to not only deal with the death of a parent, but take on an adult role as well. It is also heartwarming that an angel appears to them in a dream and lets them know that everything is going to be alright. The children are comforted in the fact that there is someone looking out for them. It is a short poem, but has a big impact on what the meaning is.