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Tone in The Chimney Sweeper

Use of 1st and 2nd Person: William Blake uses the 1st-person narration to give the poem a personal tone. The readers can readily identify with the speaker. Blake also uses a 2nd-person addressee at the end of the first stanza. This addressee stands in for English society as a whole. Blake uses this voice to lend the poem an accusatory tone, forcing his audience to examine their role in the abuses faced by child laborers.

Tone Examples in The Chimney Sweeper:

The Chimney Sweeper

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"Could scarcely cry “'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!' So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep...."   (The Chimney Sweeper)

Blake chooses a 2nd-person addressee that stands in for English society: in other words, those whose chimneys are swept. This choice gives the poem an accusatory tone. Indeed, Blake’s contemporary readership would have been attuned to worker’s rights issues and may well have possessed first-hand experiences with such child laborers. The dense internal “-eep” rhymes in this couplet give the lines an exceptional force.

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