The chimney sweeper By William Blake
At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, few laws existed to protect children from the harsh, and sometimes deadly, working conditions. As factories spread, the owners of factories, mills and mines needed agile employees who were too young and uneducated to complain about wages and the unfair treatment they often would endure at the hands of shop owners, managers and supervisors. Children, then, were the ideal type of employee. The kinds of jobs they often performed were dangerous and the work hours were grueling.
Chimney sweeps • In the United Kingdom, the master sweeps took apprentices, who were boys from the workhouse or bought them from their parents and trained them to climb chimneys. Boys as young as four climbed hot flues that could be as narrow as 9 inches square. Work was dangerous and they could get jammed in the flue, suffocate or burn to death. As the soot was a carcinogen, and as the boys slept under the soot sacks and were rarely washed, they were prone to Chimney Sweeps Cancer.
What was this job about? • The master sweep was unable to climb into such small spaces himself and employed climbing boys to go up the chimneys to dislodge the soot. The boys often 'buffed it', that is, climbed in the nude,propelling themselves by their knees and elbows which were scraped raw. They were often put up hot chimneys, and sometimes up chimneys that were alight in order to extinguish the fire. Chimneys with sharp angles posed a particular hazard
Cleaning normally… Stuck in the Chimney…not good!!!
CHILD LABOR TODAY • Today, throughout the world, around 215 million children work, many full-time. They do not go to school and have little or no time to play. Many do not receive proper nutrition or care. They are denied the chance to be children. More than half of them are exposed to the worst forms of child labor such as work in hazardous environments, slavery, or other forms of forced labor, illicit activities including drug trafficking and prostitution, as well as involvement in armed conflict.
Machinery was huge and dangerous, causing a lot of accidents and frequent deaths…
William thought that child labor was horrible and wrote passionately about it… Please help! My job sucks!
Ideas… • From whose perspective is the poem written? • What does Tom dream about? • Why is Tom Dacre happy to go to work in the morning? • Why do you think Tom’s hair was shaved? • How would you describe the mood of the poem?