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Identifying Key Themes in 'London'

In this worksheet, students will be able to practise their knowledge of the key themes in 'London.

'Identifying Key Themes in 'London'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA, Pearson Edexcel

Curriculum topic:   Poetry, Poetry Anthology Collections

Curriculum subtopic:   Power and Conflict: 'London', Time and Place: 'London'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Want to revise some key themes in 'London'?

 

You've come to the right place!

 

Thought bubble

 

To quickly recap: Written by William Blake, the poem uses imagery as its main device. The speaker depicts his views as he walks through the streets of London, commenting on the negative effects of power that establishments (for example, the government and the church) have. 'London' is a criticism of the reason for poverty in a society- Blake uses techniques such as metaphors, imagery and emotive language, as well as distinct themes, to make a reader contemplate the sufferings of the poor, lower-class people. 

 

The activity set-up will be quite straightforward. You'll get a quote- just identify the theme that you think is being presented.

 

 

 

 

It'll help if you write down whatever new or important information you learn along the way! 

Tick one key theme in the poem. 

 

 

Peace

Unity

Confinement

Murder

Fill in the blank in this sentence, with reference to last line of stanza three.

 

Pick from one of these themes:

 

royalty

death

hunting

childhood

Peace

Unity

Confinement

Murder

Which of these quotes best shows the theme of innocence in the poem?

 

"In every infants cry of fear"

"But most thro' midnight streets I hear"

"And marks in every face I meet"

"Near where the charter'd Thames does flow"

Write down one theme out of the selection below which you think is presented in the third line of stanza four.

Death

Vulnerability

Comfort

Oppression

Danger

 

Write down one theme out of the selection below which you think is presented in the second line of stanza three.

 

 

Creation

Adventure

Death

Religion

Respect

Which of these themes aren't present in the poem?

 

Hopelessness

Love

Confinement

Death

Impurity

Innocence

Have a go at matching the quote to the theme/motif.

 

 

Column A

Column B

"And the hapless soldiers sigh"
Hopelessness
"The mind-forged manacles I hear"
Death
"And blights with plagues the marriage hearse"
Confinement
"Blasts the new-born infants tear"
Innocence

Write down one theme/motif out of the selection below which you think is presented in the very first line of the poem:

Nature

Freedom

Sexuality

Confinement

Danger

Write down one theme out of the selection below which you think is presented in the second line of stanza four.

 

Definition: harlot = prostitute

 

Love

Fire

Vulnerability

Death

Last one! 

 

Write down what you think is one important/key theme in the poem.

 

 

 

On a sheet of paper, write down why you think this is the most important/key theme. This'll come in handy for the evaluation activity!

 

 

  • Question 1

Tick one key theme in the poem. 

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Confinement
EDDIE SAYS
The theme of confinement is huge in the poem! Certain members of the public are being stripped of their freedom, and made to act in certain ways/ do certain things. Think about the types of people who are victims of confinement- they're the lower-class.
  • Question 2

Fill in the blank in this sentence, with reference to last line of stanza three.

 

Pick from one of these themes:

 

royalty

death

hunting

childhood

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Stanza three, in particular line four, depicts the theme of death. The metaphor used here creates a visual image of the soldiers' blood running, metaphorically, down the palace walls.
  • Question 3

Which of these quotes best shows the theme of innocence in the poem?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"In every infants cry of fear"
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? The theme of innocence is powerful in the poem. What is the effect of referencing the "infants"- what does it suggest about loss of innocence?
  • Question 4

Write down one theme out of the selection below which you think is presented in the third line of stanza four.

Death

Vulnerability

Comfort

Oppression

Danger

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Vulnerability
EDDIE SAYS
Vulnerability is the key theme here (ties in very nicely with innocence). This is because of the subject matter- the new-born infant. Blake is showing us the true victims of corruption, the next generation of lower-class citizens will be affected. The true victims of corruption are the innocent and helpless babies being born to awful conditions. Blake is trying to appeal to the reader's sympathies and feelings of horror.
  • Question 5

Write down one theme out of the selection below which you think is presented in the second line of stanza three.

 

 

Creation

Adventure

Death

Religion

Respect

CORRECT ANSWER
Religion
Death
EDDIE SAYS
You might be surprised to find that there are two main themes in this quote- religion and death. The theme of religion is present in the reference to church. The church is "black'ning" - it's impure; not performing good deeds as it should. The imagery of something "black'ning" produces an idea of impurity or dirt around the entire concept. "Black'ning" also references death- a lot more subtle, but implied in the idea of the Black Death or Black Plague (in fact, plague is even mentioned in the last stanza, cementing this motif of death and illness). So, Blake is saying that religious institutions are impure - responsible for the death of innocents.
  • Question 6

Which of these themes aren't present in the poem?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Love
EDDIE SAYS
Good work if you chose Love! Love isn't really apparent in the poem. This makes sense due to all of the negative emotive language Blake uses. There's not much room for love when the focus is on society and class boundaries.
  • Question 7

Have a go at matching the quote to the theme/motif.

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

"And the hapless soldiers sigh"
Hopelessness
"The mind-forged manacles I hear"
Confinement
"And blights with plagues the mar...
Death
"Blasts the new-born infants tear...
Innocence
EDDIE SAYS
In being able to link certain quotes to certain themes, you will be able to revise both details and an overview of the poem. It also helps with analysis, where you take a wide theme and narrow it down into a small quote. Have fun with it and be creative in your analysis and interpretation of what you think Blake is trying to present.
  • Question 8

Write down one theme/motif out of the selection below which you think is presented in the very first line of the poem:

Nature

Freedom

Sexuality

Confinement

Danger

CORRECT ANSWER
Freedom
Confinement
EDDIE SAYS
The first theme apparent is freedom- the verb "'wander" helps us see this theme. What do you think of when you hear the word wander? It doesn't sound like the speaker is being controlled, does it? However, think about the adjective "chartered" (meaning controlled by the government). It contradicts the theme of freedom, giving the quote a much more sinister tone. Is this Blake's way of proving only certain groups of people are affected by corruption (lower-class and those in poverty). The speaker, himself, is not affected by the restrictions. Perhaps because he's upper-class?
  • Question 9

Write down one theme out of the selection below which you think is presented in the second line of stanza four.

 

Definition: harlot = prostitute

 

Love

Fire

Vulnerability

Death

CORRECT ANSWER
Vulnerability
EDDIE SAYS
The adjective "youthful", if you spotted it, conveys vulnerability. The "harlot" (prostitute) is young. She has not yet been given the opportunity to escape her confinement. Therefore, prostitution seems to be her only method of survival. The girls in this position would have been extremely vulnerable.
  • Question 10

Last one! 

 

Write down what you think is one important/key theme in the poem.

 

 

 

On a sheet of paper, write down why you think this is the most important/key theme. This'll come in handy for the evaluation activity!

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Innocence
Vulnerability
Freedom
Confinement
Religion
Death
EDDIE SAYS
If you choose a theme that isn't on this list, that's okay, as long as you can find at least two quotes which back up this theme. If you can't, then it's probably not a theme but a one time reference you're thinking of. The key themes are the ones written above, but you can also pick: - Corruption - Poverty - Society - Authority Well done on completing another activity!
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