Characters and speaker

The poem “London” by William Blake is told from the perspective of a first-person speaker, an observer of the London landscape and its people. This is indicated by the use of the personal pronoun ‘I’: “I wander thro' each charter'd street,” (p. 214, l. 1)

In poems, the use of the first person singular is associated with what might be called the lyrical ego, an alter ego of the author.

Though the speaker does not directly express his feelings with regards to what he sees, the way he describes the people in the city shows us that he is saddened and even disgusted with life in London. His poem is both critical and pitiful. He pities the life of Londoners, who seem to have no prospects of a better life and are doomed to live in misery and desperation...

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