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Blake and Betjeman as social observers
Blake observes the relationships between adults and children in his society,
exploring what makes for good, positive relationships and what produces
negative, destructive ones. He asks, and prompts the reader to ask, how
children should be treated so that they will be happy and…

Page 2

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contrary, they encourage freedom. They behave in this positive way
because they are aware that the children's innocence will come to an
end ­ the sun will go down and the light fade away. Children must
therefore be strengthened for their encounters with the world of
o Any kind…

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1780's, when the Songs of Innocence were being written, so the
Songs are rooted in the social reality of Blake's London.
Points about poetic technique, style, form
o Key words in the Innocence poems are glee, laughing, happy, joy, and
so on: simple language is used to create the atmosphere…

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children with reference to Betjeman's relationship with his own father,
bringing in his characteristic fear and resentment of death.
o Group Life, Letchworth is a comic version, but serious too, of how
oppressive liberalminded attitudes can be when they are imposed on
children. Betjeman, like Blake, does not like the…

Page 5

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and the institution of the family, slavery, and the way people are organised and
exploited in the city (specifically in London, his own city)
Important poems
o Abuse of children
o Holy Thursday (both versions) The Chimney Sweeper (both
As above (section 1): children should be nurtured by their…

Page 6

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response to the prejudice he has been brought up with,
alongside his mother's visionary account of God's love.
o The City
o London (also The Chimney Sweeper and Holy Thursday
London is about how people's lives are controlled by charters,
which give freedom to some by denying it to…

Page 7

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o He lived in London almost all his life, and was close to the grim reality
of life there: he really did wander through the chartered streets,
observing and recording what he saw.
o He engraved illustrations for a book about the sufferings of slaves,
and this affected him deeply.…

Page 8

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o In Original Sin on the Sussex Coast it is implied that children learn
bullying attitudes from adults ("...Andrew Knox, welldressed,
wellborn, wellfed, Even at nine a perfect gentleman"), and school
does nothing to correct this. But generally the family is treated very
positively in the selection: his relationship with…

Page 9

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o Stylistically, again, there is a lot of selfmocking irony in Betjeman, as
well as a tone of reassurance and contentment in the poems about
happiness and security. Blake is a poet who characteristically directs
his fierce irony outwards, against the cruelty, injustice and hypocrisy of
society (as in the…

Page 10

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In both of these poems young people fall victim to repressive
religious attitudes that are associated with the authority of the
Priest and his tyrannical interpretation of the Bible (Blake loved
the Bible but thought that it was being misinterpreted by those
who wanted to exercise social control, and to…


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