Krisi asked in Arts & HumanitiesPoetry · 1 decade ago

What does Chartered mean? [from the poem London by William Blake]?

'I wander through each chartered street,

Near where the chartered Thames does flow,'

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    The poem’s opening shows the narrator wandering the “charter’d” streets of London down to the “charter’d Thames”. The loaded word “charter’d” – changed from the first draft’s politically empty “dirty” – is used in a critical sense, and Blake’s contemporary readers would no doubt have picked up on it.

    The use of this loaded word – repeated to sharpen the ironic point that the streets, the very river itself, are privately owned – suggests the oppressive nature of early capitalism, in which the Whig alliance of merchants, rising finance capitalists and some of the most powerful land-owning aristocrats who did not need to lean on the crown for power, were busy accumulating capital via taxation and the establishment of a national debt, thus transferring wealth from the majority to the minority.

    Thomas Paine had stated in his best-selling Rights of Man the year before: “It is a perversion of terms to say, that a charter gives rights. It operates by a contrary effect, that of taking rights away.” Likewise, even Edmund Burke, generally a defender of the positive aspects of charters, had scrutinised the word critically in Chartered Rights (1784): “Magna Charta is a Charter to restrain power, and to destroy monopoly: the East India Charter is a Charter to establish monopoly, and to create power”.

    Source(s): Didn't take long to find this. first entry on google: http://21stcenturysocialism.com/article/william_bl...
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