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William Blake's London

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William Blake's "London" is a representative of English society as a whole, and the human condition in general that outlines the socio-economic problems of the time and the major communal evils.

It condemns authoritative institutions including the military, royalty, new industries, and the Church. Blake's tone creates a feeling of informative bitterness, and is both angry and despondent at the suffering and increasing corruption of London's society. Blake's sophisticated use of notation like capitalization, his specific change in meter, and the point of view all clearly develop London.

The point of view in which Blake employs to London is significant to the understanding of the poem. Blake chooses to give the poem a persona, a person who appears to have extensive knowledge of the city and helps give credibility to the poem. (Foster, 1924) The use of first person in all three stanzas allows the poem to be more opinionated and less objective, drawing the reader's attention by making it more personal. Blake's London is to be the reader's London as well. In addition to point of view, Blake further sophisticates his piece by presenting specific tone to each section of the poem. Blake sets the tone early in the poem by using the word charter'd which shows the condition of London as repressive. The speaker refers to the people or "faces" he meets with "Marks of weakness, marks of woe." This diction advocates the probability of the city being controlled by a higher authority. The faces of the people, or the face of society reveals the feelings of entrapment and misery in the population. This in itself could propose, "humanity itself is being commercialized" (Damon, 1965). One of the interesting aspects of Blake's poetry is the layers of meaning his words connote.

Blake's advanced use of notation is evident through his utilization of capitalizing specific words to emphasize a point. Capitalization is repeatedly used in "London" to stress a higher meaning than the literal interpretation. Blake's use of the phrase "every Man" again alludes to Blake's intention that the poem represents not just the common, man but also, common society. Similarly the title "London" is used to represent the state of English society and to symbolizes the condition of every human society (Hirsch Jr., 1964) Again "Infants" is capitalized showing that there is something more than just a child the speaker meets. Here Blake is exposing the innocence that has been corrupted due to the present evil. This line fills the readers' mind with a dreadful image of children being stripped away of their innocence. Here Blake specifically targets children, which are looked upon as pure and guiltless to help get his point across to the reader.

Blake's genius is evident throughout the poem where his changing meter directly correlates to the point he is making at the moment. The meter is changed in the last line of the first stanza from iambic tetrameter to anapestic dimeter possibly to stress the section (Damon, 1965) The third stanza is anaspectic for the first foot but then reverts to iambic for the last two feet of the line. The speaker begins here by condemning main foundations like the Church and the military capitalizing both words. "The Chimney - sweepers cry" is basically an exposure to the child labor prevalent during this era. Once again he uses a child to symbolize an innocent victim terrorized by higher authority. Also, these cries are accusations against the Church. Blake uses the phrase "blackening Church" to expose the Church's function as a tyrant rather than a source of enlightenment (Lambert Jr., 1995) This line illustrates the Church



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