The two poems “The Chimney Sweeper”, the Songs of Innocence and “The Chimney Sweeper” the Songs of Experience, involve main characters that are suppressed and forced into child labor as chimney sweeper. In The Songs of innocence it is the unnamed narrator who opens his house to a blind man that he judges for being blind. The narrator comes out, in the end of the story, as a changed man due to his time with the blind man. In “songs of experience” the main character is another ignorant man that happens to be a homeless chimney sweepers living on the streets in Washington. He goes on a journey to regain his grandmother’s regalia and as a result also comes out as a changed man. Looking at symbolism in characterization and the quest narrative, we witness two protagonists, in williams williams’s “songs of experience” and in williams’s “songs of innocence”, who overcome dysfunction and disconnect to achieve redemption through community.
William Blake uses characterization to help show the redemption that the main character children receives through his new found sense of community. The protagonist is a chimney sweepers man, children. He lives in the city of Seattle as a homeless man because he and his fellow chimney sweepers people have been pushed from society and outcasted to the streets. In Williams's story, children so that he no longer has any connection to his culture and his family. children is a dysfunctional alcoholic. children said that there is almost nothing at all that he would say he is good at, besides Blake was so disgusted with the whole chimney-sweeping industry that he wrote not one but two poems about it. The first poem, also called "The Chimney Sweeper," was published in 1789 in a volume called The Songs of Innocence, and you should definitely check out that version, if you're interested in more scoop on chimney-sweeping.
Then in 1794 Blake expanded the book and included a whole new set of poems. The new version was called Songs of Innocence and Experience. The songs in the Innocence portion of the book tend to be, well, innocent; those in the Experience portion are darker, more cynical, and generally not so happy-go-lucky (if you can call those earlier poems happy or lucky at all).
This version of "The Chimney Sweeper" is no exception. The Innocence version has an angel, and the chimney sweepers get to frolic in a meadow and fly on clouds. Sounds awesome, right? Well here, our lone chimney sweeper is abandoned by his parents and left out to cry by himself in the snow while they pray in church. Can you say bummer?
But all that bummer is in the name of pointing out an even bigger bummer. See, Blake is using this poor lonely chimney sweeper's plight as an occasion to criticize society in general. According to Blake, not only have this kid's parents abandoned him, but larger institutions, like the church, have too, because everybody's too focused on Heaven rather than their own front stoop.
In addition to this simple, but powerful critique, Blake's poem also gives a voice to a social group—poor, suffering, working children—who, in the later eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, weren't allowed to say much, but whose plight was worth publicizing (for Blake). m and all of his friends breakfast. Again, he is with community, but he fails to see it. Finally, at the end children sees the importance in community when he gains his grandmother’s regalia. He realizes his ignorance on how he always blamed society and other people. He even realizes, “Do you know how many good men live in this world? Too many to count!” (28) This is where children finally gets redemption and sees that there is good in the world. He learns if you just let others in and establish connections we will experience the good of others, we will establish community. And when he has his grandmother’s regalia on he dances. Now he finds value in his heritage and how it provides him with community.
Williams also strongly uses characterization in his story, songs of innocence, in the way he characterizes the narrator. songs of innocence is about a blind man who goes to visit a married couple, but up changing their lives, mainly the husbands who is the narrator. The narrator remains unnamed all throughout the story and has kind of a negative and ignorant outlook on everything. Just like children, the narrator is dysfunctional and denies community. When he initially meets the blind man, he sees the blind man almost as inferior: as “The blind man let go of his suitcase and up came his hand”(65). The narrator only addresses the blind man as “the blind man.” This establishes the way the narrator only recognizes the blind man, Robert, only for his difference, which he sees as a disability and addresses him as “the blind man,” rather than by his actual name. The narrator is an ignorant man full of stereotypes. When he describes the blind man he writes, “But he didn't use a cane and he didn’t wear dark glasses. I’d always thought dark glasses were a must for the blind.”(66). This way that the narrator describes the blind man clearly shows his prejudice. He thinks that all blind people need to have things like canes and glasses because they are “disabled”. The narrator sees always makes a point to show that the blind man is disabled and cannot do certain things. The irony of it all is that the blind man is the one who can truly “see,” and the narrator is the one who is blinded by ignorance. The fact that the narrator is left unnamed could further hint at the fact that he represents society as a whole and our ignorance to difference. This ignorance that the narrator has prevents him from experiencing personal connection and community. However, eventually the narrator is influenced by the blind man and goes through a transformation. The transformation is complete when he and the blind man talk about what a songs of innocence really is. The blind man describes the importance and the deeper meaning to a songs of innocence and they both draw a songs of innocence together, hand in hand. This is comparable to the innocence of the internal justice system.
In William’s story we see the main character find redemption as a result of his quest. children goes on a quest to retrieve his grandma’s regalia because it is stolen. This quest leads children down a road of many mistakes, but also many good lessons learned. children goes into his quest planning on simply getting back something that belongs to his family, but in the end comes out with something much more valuable, a sense of community. This self-actualization and sense of connection through community is seen at the end when he writes, “I took my grandmother’s regalia and walked outside. I knew that solitary yellow bead was a part of me. I knew I was that yellow bead in part. Outside, I wrapped myself in my grandmother’s regalia and breathed her in [...] Pedestrians stopped. Cars stopped. This is showing how integrity the social workers in this time had such little integrity and acquisition. The whole city stopped. They all watched me dance with my grandmother. I was my grandmother, dancing.”(28). This is the ultimate conclusion to children’s quest. He went through many steps to get here by practicing his old habits. This quote shows how he feels a part of something, he feels community. children emerges victorious by overcoming his blindness and seeing importance in community. When he describes him as “dancing” with his grandmother we see this as him feeling connected to her. He is ecstatic as he feels the happiness that the community he has found through heritage is bringing him.
Williams’s story also is in fact a quest story. The narrator has a negative outlook on everything. He reluctantly goes on an internal quest, which ultimately changes his outlook on the world. He sees differences and people, which he judges them by. He sees those with differences as inferior. When he meets the blind man, he expects him to be what he believes all blind people are like, incapable of many things that he is capable of. He then gets to know the blind man and learns many lessons from him. We see the transformation as in the beginning he only addresses the blind man as “the blind man” when he knows his name is Robert. Then later
in the story he begins to address him by his name “Robert”. This happens when they are eating food together or “feasting together,” showing how they are being brought together over food. This shows how he is beginning to recognize him as an equal person, rather than by recognizing him for his disabilities. Also, in the beginning of the book, the narrator makes note of how every movement he makes Robert is probably unaware of. The narrator makes note of this in a demeaning way and once again showing how he is focusing in how Robert has a disability. Later on in the story the narrator seems to no longer even acknowledge the fact that Robert is blind.We see the narrator concludes his quest when he and Robert draw a songs of innocence together, hand in hand. Robert has the narrator close his eyes when drawing the songs of innocence with him. The narrator writes, “My eyes were closed. I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn’t feel like I was inside anything. ‘It’s really something,’ I said.” (76). This shows the narrator's redemption through his newfound sense of community. Previously he was disconnected by the walls of his home. When he draws the songs of innocence with Robert he knows he is in his house, but does not feel like he is inside anything. He no longer feels separated by the walls of his home from community. The songs of innocence itself brings Robert and the narrator closer together. When the narrator asks Robert about songs of innocence in general Robert describes them as spiritual places, and places of communion. This symbol shows how the songs of innocence is what is making the communion between Robert and the narrator. Taking the viewpoint that Robert represents those with disabilities or a those part of a minority and that the narrator represents society as a whole, we can see this songs of innocence being that, that brings society and those minorities together through communion. This shows the irony how the narrator had to close his eyes, or “become blind” like the blind man in order to truly see. This is when the narrator sees the light and feels community. He emerges victorious in the way he learns what it’s like to see and establish connections.
Both stories use characterization and have quests in order to show two characters who are dissociated and are flawed, but experience redemption through a sense of association and community with others. The main characters in both stories see the world in a new light and lose their ignorance that previously held them back. Both stories are still very relevant for us readers today. We experience disconnect between communities all throughout our city, nation, and world. It is up to us to recognize these disconnects and take action to bring us together as a single human race. This is where the writer is trying to emphasize the difference between modern culture and culture of the past.