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brit lit paper 1 - Ellyn Velasco Prof Emmitt British...

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Ellyn Velasco Prof. Emmitt British Literature-II March 9, 2008 A Comparison of Blake’s “The Chimney Sweeper” “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea,” states Revelation 21:1 (New International Version). This verse from the Bible, also known as William Blake’s “Great Code of Art” (Norton 78), embodies the message he portrays in “The Chimney Sweeper” from The Songs of Innocence and The Songs of Experience . However, “The Chimney Sweeper” is not an apocalyptic poem describing the coming of Jesus Christ; it is a portrayal of peoples’ contradicting views of heaven. William Blake’s “The Chimney Sweeper” from The Songs of Innocence and The Songs of Experience illustrates the contradiction between the idea of heaven as a Biblical refuge of happiness and heaven as a man-made realm through his references to God and the motif of the soot. “And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,/ He’d have God for his father & never want joy” (Norton 85). This excerpt from The Songs of Innocence displays the portrayal of heaven in the eyes of a child as the place of ultimate happiness. Blake’s child-like character interprets Tom’s heaven as a place where he could “never want joy”—that is, where he could be so content, he could never desire anything more. Before the angel speaks to Tom, however, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack—other chimneysweeper boys—are swept up in clouds, “naked and white.” This imagery demonstrates the innocence and purity of Tom’s thoughts of heaven. He 1
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sees heaven as an escape from the “coffins of black”—otherwise known as chimneys.
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