The Chimney Sweeper

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by clsurface
Last updated 4 years ago

Discipline:
Social Studies
Subject:
World Culture
Grade:
12

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The Chimney Sweeper

In the Poem The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake, a story is told of a young boy and the hard ship he faces as a chimney sweep. In 1789 when the poem was published, chimney boys were very common in England. After the great fire in London, chimneys were to be built in a new, narrow way. This made young boys the perfect size to fit in there and clean. Young boys would be purchased by master sweepman from poverty-stricken parents. The ideal age for a boy was 6, but some started at 4. They then would work for this master sweep and clean chimneys. The boys then essentially were slaves, with no opportunity for advancement in life. The health effects of doing this work were devastating. The children often became stunted in their growth and disfigured because of the unnatural position they were frequently in before their bones had fully developed. Their knees and ankle joints were affected most often. The childrens lungs would become diseased, and their eyelids were often sore and inflamed. The boys lived in small cellars filled with soot. It is said they received 3 baths a year, with one day off a year. This life was miserable and cruel. Unfortunately, this took place for almost another century untill outlawed in England in 1875.

The Romantic PeriodBy Collin Surface

The Chimney Sweeper

Sweeping Tools

Young Chimney Boys

This animated video tells the story of the boy in William Blake's poem


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