Saturday, January 24, 2009
Historical Significance of the Chimney Sweep Poems
The poems “The Chimney Sweeper”, protests the living conditions, working conditions and the overall treatment of young chimney sweeps in the cities of England. In 1788, there was an attempt to pass an act to improve these conditions. This act would have made many people aware of the lives of the chimney sweeps. These conditions are represented Blake’s poem for example: “then naked and white, all their bags left behind”; referring to the bags of soot chimney sweeps slept on. Sweeps were sometimes not given clothes so that their masters would not have to replace them, they were also rare bathed. Sweeps who were not killed by fires usually died from respiratory problems or cancer of the scrotum. Sweeping chimneys often left the children with deformed ankles and spines. Sweeps were seen as subhuman creatures, not part of a human society.