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The Romantic period began in the mid-eighteenth century and lasted till about the mid-nineteenth century. It is characterized by a reaction against the Enlightenment and Neoclassicism centuries. They preferred the country to city and the natural instead of the planned. They write in a more free lyric; therefore, stimulating the language of the common people. They would emphasize in the individual, the subjective, the irrational, the visionary, and the transcendental. An easy way to think about the Romantic writers is they are natural. They also had many literary forms of writing: Gothic tales, sentimental comedies, sentimental novels, historical novels, serialized fictions, metrical romances, ballads, and lyrics. When discussing the lyric form there is different ways to write a lyric. One is the sonnet which is idealized with love, nature lyric that celebrates the majesty of nature, dramatic monologue is a speech of an individual character, reflective lyric is used for public or private dignity which personal emotion is involved, and lyric of morbid melancholy expresses the sorrow and pain of bereavement. In William Blake’s “The Chimney Sweeper”, both innocence and experience is a life lesson of a little boy. Blake is known for his traditional ballad style of writing. In his stories “The Chimney Sweeper” both innocence and experience, I find that they both have a turning in upon self and a heightened examination of human personality. Though it may not jump out at you, I found the children to be turning themselves to God. One turning towards God, and the other away.
As a young child we are unsure about the truth about God and ourselves. We also will believe what we are told and anything we are told. In the innocence version of “The Chimney Sweeper” young Tom’s dream made him examine his life and turn himself to self, self being God. All Tom needed was a dream. In the occurrence of having this dream about his friends and seeing them in black coffins, and seeing an angel suddenly appear to free them. Tom knew then there is a God and he can and will see his friends again. As he wakes up the next morning he is a much happier boy, knowing that he will get the chance to have fun with Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack. Tom examined his life so he could go on living with a faith and knowing that he will be in heaven one day, by doing that he turned himself to self (God). As a young child all it took was a dream, but for an older adult it takes much more. As Tom grows-up I think his faith will grow much stronger. I would wonder why is that? We should have all have the faith like Tom did, in just a dream. It worked for Martin Luther King Jr.
In the experience version of “The Chimney Sweeper” you will find a different story and a different type of faith. As you walk down the snowy street you will find and young boy doubting his faith in self and complaining about his life. He says that he may act happy to his parents but he is not. He does not like how his parents dress him or what they make him learn, but he acts happy to them. This little boy blames his unhappiness on God. The one that his parents go into the church to worship while he must sit outside and smile and act happy all dressed in clothes of death. This little boy is examining himself, but also others around him, comparing himself to the other children playing and having fun. This young boy is turning himself away from God. And as this young man grows his faith in God will only seize to become more hateful.
Even though people may view and look upon the Romantic period as love stories and heroes, it is like anything else in life, it is not what it seems. The Romantic times also had their dark times and talked of unhappiness. Still they had their own taste in literature, they spoke more modern, more natural or you could say more down to earth. They relied more on themselves and what happens in the everyday life, not a crazy imagination. Their thought began with their feelings and test for truth was an inner test. I think that Blake shows us all how the true test is within. That we must examine our lives and faith in God before anything else. That without God we will be like the little boy in the experience version of “The Chimney Sweeper” and we will blame God for everything, even the things that we should not.
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