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What aspects of 18th century life does Blake attack in the poem London? Free essay! Download now

Home > GCSE > English literature > What aspects of 18th century life does Blake attack in the poem London?

What aspects of 18th century life does Blake attack in the poem London?

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Downloads to date: N/A | Words: 1800 | Submitted: 09-Feb-2005
Spelling accuracy: N/A | Number of pages: | Filetype: Word .doc


A* rated essay, this essay looks at the Blake's peom London. The essay provides historical context to the poem and then analyses the allegorical nature of the poem, highlighting issues such as prostitution, the Church and the Monarchy.


Blake was vehemently against these charters he saw them as a prohibition against people’s lives, but also an area causing great inequality in society as these charters also granted privileges to individual classes of people. These privileges were almost always granted to the upper class because they were the ones who held all of the power at the time. Blake shows us his criticism of these laws in the opening two lines of his poem, ‘ I wander thro’ each charter’d street,’ ‘Near where the charter’ Thames does flow.’ The first line refers to the way in which every (shown by the use of each) street, seems to be suppressed and restricted, in an almost unnatural state. He then uses the Thames metaphorically, on face value he is talking about how this mighty river is being forced through man-made channels it is being suppressed. The fact the Thames is being suppressed is referring not only to the river but to the people of London as well. Both lines of the poem share the word ‘charter’d’ which has the double meaning of restricted, but also it is a reference to the London charters mentioned above. This theme of prohibition and restriction is then reinforced in the second stanza by the line ‘ in every ban,’ the word ban is referring to laws, laws that forbid the common people from doing things. The theme of restriction and the whole unnaturalness of the way people are forced to live are summed up in the line ‘mind-forg’d manacles’. The term ‘mind-forged’, is a clever term. The alliteration of the ‘m’s’ seems to emphasise this line when read making it an important image. The phrase talks about the word mind-forg’d, thus implying that the manacles are some human creation, they are something unnatural. They have been placed on people not physically but mentally. The manacles are not actually physically on the people, but they know that they are not allowed to do things. In this sense, they are restricted. The people are not free to do what they want, they have had manacles placed on their lives. These manacles take the form of the London charters and all other laws imposed on them.

Blake all the way through the poem shows how wretched the peoples lives are he describes and focuses his attention on how the majority lived in desperate poverty. He may not be therefore directly attacking any aspect of society, but indirectly he is pointing out the severe flaws to the unequal social system in place during this time. ‘Marks of weakness, marks of woe.’ ‘In every cry of every man.’ ‘In every Infants cry of fear,’ in all of these lines and in many others throughout the poem he is showing the plight and adversity the people face.

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