The idea of the country as a whole taking advantage of these people is clearly portrayed in both poems. In the song of the Shirt, the woman says that every time her clothes get worn out, you are not only wearing the shirt out but her herself. In the Cry of the Children, Elizabeth Barrett Browning asks her readers why they continue to “Stifle down with a mailed heel its palpitation.
And tread onward to your throne amid the mart.” One of the main themes of both poems is the continuous working. Thomas Hood uses repetition of words to show this such as “Work, work, work,” and “Seam, and gusset, and band.” In the poem by Mrs Browning, she gives the theme a mechanical like nature. This very effective when she writes about how all the machinery is turning and all the children are turning with it.
Both the woman and the children in the poems realise that they are close to death and so therefore are not scared of it. However they see death differently. The children in the Cry of the Children, see death as a release in which they will never need to work. They are not scared of it because they believe that nothing can be worse than their position now. The old woman, is not scared of death because she believes that death looks like her. Death is portrayed as being very thin and bony and she compares herself to him because she is very thin from hunger and malnourishment.
One difference is that the worker in the Song of the Shirt knows how to enjoy life as she wants to take walks and to feel the grass and see the sky. On the other hand, the children do not know what enjoyment is. They are unable to see a good side of life when all they have been exposed to is the very worst. To similarities are the views of the Christian work. In the Song of the Shirt, the old woman complains that her life did not deserve to be so bad because she is a Christian. She goes on to sing that she might as well be Turk who didn’t have a soul than be a Christian because she gets nothing out of being a Christian.
In the Cry of the Children, the children are forced to pray to God and are told that whey will be rewarded in heaven. The children are unable to believe about God because they do not know how he will hear their cries for help when all the people near to them hear their cries and yet do nothing. Also, they are told that man is made in God’s image and so therefore so is their master and their master is telling them to continue to work. They also do not pray to God because all their life is spent down in the mine and so they believe heaven must be similar to it. Finally when it says that “God’s possible is taught by His world’s loving,” it explains why the children cannot believe in God because they receive no love.