London = Poverty & Inequality

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  • London = Poverty & inequality
    • Language
      • "hapless Soldier's sigh"
      • "ban" - connotations of military summons
        • Whimper of suffering caused by British expansion in India
        • Impressment
      • "Charter'd streets"
        • 1792 = British East India Company renewed their charter to control British-held territory in India
      • "youthful harlots curse ... marriage hearse" - idea of STDs being prevalent - free love idea - marriage as restrictive and unnatural.
        • Destruction and poverty
    • Structure
      • X4 Quatrains
        • Tight form evokes inescapability
      • ABAB rhyme scheme. All is cohesive and united on the surface
      • First-person perspective. Autobiographical?
    • Interpretations
      • British imperialism = 'charter'd streets'
        • British East India Company charter to renew influence in India
        • "in every voice, in every ban"
          • "hapless Soldier's sigh / Runs in blood down Palace walls"
      • Blake = anti-imperialist
      • Possible allusion to Thomas Paine's 'Rights of Man', which argued in favour of the principles of the French Revolution
      • The establishment
        • Criticism of authoritative state and a stringent society
      • Possibility of divine retribution (pestilence and "blights with plagues") at the end?
      • Criticism of humanity constantly trying to innovate. We have become detached from nature.
    • Thematic link
      • Inequality within Britain
        • Also can be seen in other Blake poems in 'Songs of Experience'
      • Inequality of the British Empire, especially in India


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