English Lit - London (Poetry - Context)

  • Created by: Liv39
  • Created on: 03-04-18 14:51

London - William Blake

  • Historical Context 
  • Blake's Context
  • Extra Context 




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London - Historical Context

  • The poem is set during a time in England where there was a huge amount of poverty, child labour and a war with France.
  • At this time, death rates from disease and malnutrition were high.
  • The industrial revolution meant London became overcrowded and polluted by large, oppressive factories.
  • Almost half of the children died before the age of two.
  • In France, they had just thrown off and executed their king.
  • The 'People's Revolution' was meant to show that all men had power and were equal. In Britain, a country with an old monarchy and aristocracy, this was scary.
  • Blake is peraps supporting the revolution, asking people to thrown off the 'manacles' of their belief that they should be told what to do. 
  • Many of his poems railed against the establishment.
  • This poem also laments how London, arguably the greatest city in the world at that time, was so dirty and corrupt.
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London - Blake's Context

  • Blake rejected religion, particuarly because the church failed to help children in London who were forced to work.
  • Blake lived in the capital, so he understood the hardships that they faced.
  • Blake was a radical man, who was frustrated with the world around him.
  • He was vocal and public about his political views. He was part of a mob that burned down Newgate Prison in the London riots of 1780.
  • He wanted poeple  to challenge the world around them, which was arguably his motive for writing 'London'.
  • Throughout his life, he claims to have seen various visions. He reportedly saw a tree of angels in Peckham Rise. 
  • Therefore, lots of his poems have a spirtiual or supernatural element.
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London - Extra Context

  • He was a poet and was specialised in illuminated texts, often of a religious nature.
  • Blake lived and worked in the capital, well placed to writte about the conditions. 

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