Durkheim’s Theory of ‘Anomic Suicide’ Reflected in Blake’s “London”

William Blake’s poem “London” can be directly correlated with French sociologist Emile Durkheim’s theory of “anomic suicide.” Blake discusses his personal distaste for the recent state of the city of London, describing the “mark” the change of society has imprinted on it’s individuals. Durkheim’s theory is based upon those individuals affected by such societal change and a possible explanation for suicide in society.

Blake describes the unfortunate condition of his hometown of London, England; post the French Revolution and post-industrialization and urbanization of the 19th century. Due to overpopulation, unhealthy working conditions, scarce resources, and a generally squalor environment, London was plagued with disease, harlots, poverty, and a jaded working class. Blake displays sympathy for the working class of London, stating how they are “marked” with signs of sadness, “weakness,” “woe,” and grief from their lost city. Blake’s poem is his own personal “mark” of depression and mourning of the London he once loved. Blake also comments on the English’s complete loss of faith in the church; claiming, “every blackning Church appalls” –exhibiting the people’s inability to provide the slightest form of consolation. Blake asserts that all pathways lead to suffering and death and provides the reader with no closure or resolution to the people of London’s pain.

Continue reading “Durkheim’s Theory of ‘Anomic Suicide’ Reflected in Blake’s “London””