In the formal approach method to critical analysis, it is essential to read William Blake’s “London” mechanically. Blake uses his rhetorical skills of alliteration, imagery, and word choice to create his poem, but more importantly to express the emotional significance that is implied.
William Blake’s poem, “London”, is obviously a sorrowful poem. In the first two stanzas, Blake utilizes alliteration and word choice to set the mournful atmosphere. Blake introduces his reader to the narrator as he “wanders” through the “chartered” society. A society in which every person he sees has “marks of weakness, marks of woe.” Blake repeatedly uses the word “every” and “cry” in the second stanza to symbolize the depression that hovers over the entire society. The “mind-forged manacles” the narrator hears suggests that he is not mentally stable.
In the third stanza, Blake utilizes imagery of destruction and religion. This imagery is a paradox, which implies some religious destruction like the apocalypse. The “chimney-sweeper’s cry” symbolizes the society trying to clean the ashes that causes their state of depression. Blake uses the religious imagery of the “black’ning church” to represent the loss of innocence, and the society’s abandonment of religion. The use of the soldiers creates an imagery of war. The “hapless soldier’s sigh” symbolize how men are drafted into war and have no choice but to serve their country. As these soldiers unwilling march to the beat of the country’s forceful drum, they know their lives will be taken, as their “sigh runs in blood down palace walls.” Blake uses this sense of destruction to explain how people are forced to repair the “weakness” and “woe” of their society.
The fourth stanza of “London” unravels the complex meaning of the poem. The “youthful harlot’s curse” symbolizes how the youth’s sinful deeds will effect the next generation. Their “curse” causes the “newborn infant’s tear” which exemplifies how the new generation will have to correct the mistakes of the previous generation.
Misconceptions of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights
Wuthering Heights Misconceptions
Victorian reviewers of Emily Bronte’s classic Wuthering Heights found it to be far too harsh and dreary for their tastes. One author, writing for the Atlas, compared Wuthering Heights to Jane Eyre saying that, “Wuthering Heights casts a gloom over the mind that is not easily dispelled” (WH 300) while Jane Eyre manages to provide some cathartic element that offers its reader a release. The same author criticizes it for its lack of realistic elements saying that a “few glimpses of sunshine would have increased the reality of the picture and given strength rather than weakness to the whole” (WH 300). Upon further comparison the author says of Jane Eyre it “lacks the power and originality of Wuthering Heights, [though] it is infinitely more agreeable” ending saying Ellis Bell (pseudonym of Emily Bronte) is an author with colossal promise (WH 300).
Some literary critics of the time preferred to ride the fence on this controversial book. An essay published in Douglas Jerrold’s Weekly Newspaper stated it was a “strange book – baffling all regular criticism” (WH 302). While not committing to actual criticisms of either story or author the writer alludes to the disturbing themes of the piece and closes his article by saying, “We strongly recommend all our readers to who love novelty to get this story” (WH 302).
Other critics are more than willing to attack both the work and Ellis Bell. A writer for the Examiner stated, shortly after the publication of the book, “it is wild, confused, disjointed, and improbable, and the people who make up the drama…are savages ruder than those who lived before the days of Homer” (WH 303).
Charlotte Bronte attempts to, in her forward to the 1850 publication of Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey, address misconceptions about her sisters, their pseudonyms, and Emily’s infamous book. Charlotte claims that a grievous error was done to her sister when critics attempted to claim that the same hand that penned Jane Eyre was responsible for Wuthering Heights.