William Blake As A Critic Of His Time William Blake As A Critic Of His Time Blake took an active role in exposing the corruption taking place in his society.
Prime targets of his criticisms were the institutions that remained silent in the faces of injustice. Blake stands agains the institutions that allow human oppression. Three of his poems from Songs of Experience present his views on the matter: The Chimney Sweeper, The Garden of Love, and London. In The Chimney Sweeper, Blake takes his stand against the the calamities brought upon children by those supposed to protect him. Innocence comes to an end for the child when he is exposed to the horrors of sweeping chimneys .
His sadness can be felt when he says : They clothed me in the clothes of death/and taught me to sing the notes of woe (Blake, 6-7). The child is telling society that his pain is being caused by those in whom he put his trust his parents. Even more disconcerting is to know that his parents do nothing to stop his horrors. They abandon him and go ..to praise God & his Priest & King (Blake, 11).
Perhaps they do this , because on the outside their child looks happy and they probably think that they are helping him more than anything: And because I am happy, & dance& sing,/ They think they have done me no injury, (Blake, 9-10) . In the meantime, the church is also playing a part in his misery. How? Because it allows the parents to come inside its building to pray when they should be protecting their child from all harm: They are both gone up to the church to pray’ (Blake, 4). …a heaven of our misery (Blake, 12) finally emphasizes to the reader once more those who are responsible for the child’s pain and sorrows . He hopes that, somehow, people would take action and do away with the calamity of child labor. In another one of his poems, The Garden of Love, Blake portrays religion as the oppressor of human kind.
Man wants to be close to God : I went to the Garden of Love (Blake, 1) as he used to be when little: Where I used to play in the green (Blake, 4) but, finds the church standing in his way: A Chapel was built in the midst (Blake, 3). Blake sees the church as an obstacle between men and God: And the gates of this Chapel were shut/ And Thou shalt not writ over the door (Blake, 5-6). Blake gives emphasis to the word Thou shalt not to indicate once more how oppressive the church is. He attacks the Priests because, instead of offering God’s comfort as they were meant to do, they become like judges or police officers telling men what they can or cannot do:: And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds/ And binding with briars my joys and desires (Blake, 11- 12).
Blake asks society to take a second look at the way the church treats them and to realize that God cannot found among oppressionists. London is yet another one of Blake’s poems used to expose the suffering of men. He speaks of the streets and the river as being bound to give a sense of men’s predicament: I wander thro’ each charter’d street/Near where the charter’d Thames does flow (Blake, 1-2) . More sense of human slavery is given when he reveals that the minds of men are trapped as they wander suffering through the streets by society-imposed chains:..mind-forg’d manacles I hear (Blake, 8). The pain is obvious to Blake and he wants society to take notice of it: …in every face I meet/mark of weakness, marks of woe [I see] (Blake, 4) Church again is brought into the picture with its qualities of indifference: …the Chimney-sweeper’s cry/ Every blackning Church appalls (Blake ,9-10). Because of prostitution, the blessings of marriage has turned into death and decay, giving yet more sense of despair: …the youthful Harlot’s curse/..plagues the Marriage hearse (Blake, 14&16).
Blake is telling the people to wake up, look around them and take action against this kind of slavery. In conclusion, it can be easily seen how Blake stood against the suffering of human kind and used his poems to expose the corruption of the world that surrounded him. He clearly critized the society and hoped that people would take action to change things for the better. The problems in Blake’s society aren’t very different than the ones in today’s world. People should take a good look around them and take action to better their surroundings.