The Meeting of Childhood and Colonialism in William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience

University essay from Karlstads universitet/Fakulteten för humaniora och samhällsvetenskap (from 2013)

Abstract: In Songs of Innocence and of Experience William Blake contrasts childhood and adulthood. This essay relates this to another prominent social issue in the collection, colonialism. This essay aims at answering the question of what happens when the child is black rather than white. By providing an analysis of how children in general are portrayed, followed up with a brief discussion of how Blake deals with colonial issues this essay sets the stage for a final concluding discussion about what happens when the two themes of childhood and colonialism meet. The discussion reveals that Blake is using irony to ridicule the contemporary polarized meanings of the words “black” and “white”. By doing this Blake makes the little black boy in “The Little Black Boy” the perfect symbol for criticising the contemporary issues of child abuse and colonialism in one single piece of poetry.

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