The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake

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What is the theme of the poem The Chimney Sweeper?

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The theme or message Blake wishes to convey in this poem is that it is cruel to allow innocent children to be treated the way the chimney sweepers are.

As we learn from the poem, the chimney sweepers come from the ranks of children born into terrible circumstances who are "sold" at an early age to clean chimneys. They get none of the pleasures associated with childhood, such as a chance to play in nature and sunshine. Instead they have their heads shaved, work all the time, and live in soot. In the young narrator's dream, they are "locked up in coffins of black." The coffins represent both the dark, narrow chimneys where the young boys spend most of their days and the literal coffins in which they are buried when they die young.

The innocence of the chimney sweeper who believes that if he behaves he will "never want joy" contrasts with the reader's heartbreaking knowledge or experience that no matter how "good" he is, a chimney sweep will lead a life of misery. Blake is trying to arouse...

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