William Blake’s “London” Essay

William Blake’s “London”Works Cited Not Included

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.

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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) Aga…

…en with gonorrhea and other diseases, which blinded the newborn babies (Damon, 1965) Hence the diction ?Blast the new-born Infants tear?. The poem reaches its climax as the speaker exposes the infants who were born into poverty. When Blake uses the contradicting phrase ?Marriage hearse? in the last line it is significant because he combines something good with something bad (Lambert Jr., 1995) Blake proposes the possibility that as long as powerful institutions corrupt society, marriage is always cursed. Even though the joy of a new life is present, the fact that the child is born into a corrupt and evil society is discouraging. Blake suggests to the reader that until there is change this loop will continue.

?London? is a poem of serious social satire directed against social institutions. According to Blake author Michael Phillips ?it is a poem whose moral realism is so severe that it is raised to the intensity of apocalyptic vision.? Blake becomes more specific in his descriptions of the prevalent evil and moral decay of society as the poem progresses. Blake?s informative nature is clearly evident in ?London? as he ?points the finger? and exposes powerful institutions.


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