Miss Bates’ Big Idea: 

Blake presents London as a cruel and sinister setting in the 18th century, riddled with misery and pollution as a result of the Industrial Revolution.

He describes the residents of London as being trapped; prisoners of their own misery and poverty, unable to escape from a life of deprivation and oppression. His use of the phrase ‘mind forged manacles’ conveys a sense of entrapment and slavery.

Here, Blake criticises the institutions which were designed to care for the poor, such as the church, the monarchy, and the government. He describes the church as ‘blackening’ and states that it ‘appals’ him, thus demonstrating his disgust for the corrupt institutions at the time.

Blake acts as an advocate for the poor and helpless in this poem, highlighting issues of exploitation and oppression in a time of seemingly monumental growth and prosperity.

Key Questions:
  1. What would life have been like for the poor in Victorian Britain/London? [History]
  2. Do we still witness oppression and deprivation in our society today? [Politics, Sociology, Psychology, Health and Social Care]
  3. Did Blake’s artwork have dark undertones or political messages like his poetry? [Art, Photography]
  4. thumbnail_london

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