Metaphor in The Chimney Sweeper
Metaphors for Death: Blake relies heavily on both metaphors for death and metaphorical deaths. These metaphors primarily occur in Tom’s dream, wherein the chimney sweepers are locked in black coffins which evoke images of soot and ash. The suggestion is that the life of a chimney sweep is a sort of death. Tom’s dream then takes place in a paradisiacal realm, suggesting that dreams and perhaps death are, unfortunately, the only refuges for the little chimney sweepers.
Metaphors for Innocence: The majority of the metaphors in this “The Chimney Sweeper” relate to the central theme of innocence and its loss. Tom’s dream is full of metaphors of cleansing and rebirth. The river signifies a metaphorical cleansing of sin. The bright “shine of the sun” acts as a purifier, drawing on the metaphor of brightness as purity. The angels bring the “naked and white” child workers into the heavenly afterlife. Nudity is a common metaphor for purity and innocence. The leaving behind of bags is a metaphor for redemption, as the sins of the material world are left behind before the children enter the afterlife.
Metaphor Examples in The Chimney Sweeper:
The Chimney Sweeper🔒
"Then naked & white, all their bags left behind,..." See in text (The Chimney Sweeper)
"And wash in a river, and shine in the sun...." See in text (The Chimney Sweeper)
"That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, & Jack, Were all of them locked up in coffins of black...." See in text (The Chimney Sweeper)
"There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head, That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved; so I said,' Hush, Tom!..." See in text (The Chimney Sweeper)