Analysis Pages

Imagery in The Chimney Sweeper

Darkness: Darkness is a recurring image in “The Chimney Sweeper.” The black coffins, the soot of the chimney, and the skin of the chimney sweeper covered in ash signify a loss of innocence. White is often associated with innocence in Christian symbolism, so the vivid imagery of darkness stands in direct contrast. Images of darkness accompany the children’s work as chimney sweepers, implying that the causes of their loss of innocence are the labor and the harsh conditions.

Imagery Examples in The Chimney Sweeper:

The Chimney Sweeper


"That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, & Jack, Were all of them locked up in coffins of black...."   (The Chimney Sweeper)

Tom’s dream brings forth an important metaphor: the drudgery-filled life of a chimney-sweeper is a kind of death. The blackness of the coffins evokes multiple motifs and symbols to reinforce this view: soot, experience, oblivion. As will become clear, Blake deepens the meaning of the dream.

Analysis Pages