Charles Lamb: Essays

Charles Lamb: Essays Imagery

Children Growing Fainter

In "Dream-Children; A Reverie" we get the affecting image of Elia's children fading away as he begins to realize that he did not marry Alice W. and therefore had no children by her. Their fading from Elia's vision helps us understand his pain of having these lovely children so within his grasp only to disappear upon waking.

Bo-bo Inspecting the Burned Pig

Lamb does a wonderful job making the mundane seem strange in "A Dissertation Upon Roasted Pig," dedicating several early lines to the confused and self-consciously naughty Bo-bo examining the pig that just burned inside of his house and realizing that the animal was quite alluring to eat. The realization that the skin is crackling ultimately lures the boy to try the pig, and this crackling is exactly the quality Elia seems to enjoy the most in roast pork.

Mutton with Turnips

In "Grace Before Meat," Elia depicts a poor man feeling thankful for a simple plate of mutton with turnips. This modest image is contrasted with the feasts that he previously illustrated, about which he posits the wealthy have a hard time saying sincere grace before starting their meal. The mutton with turnips is a powerful image because it tells so much about the circumstances of the man who is grateful for it.

Chimney Sweeps Drinking Saloop

Lamb uses the imagery of the little chimney sweep boys drinking a strange tea to illustrate the simple, childish pleasures which speak to a youthful enthusiasm persisting in spite of their difficult labor. The contrast between a child enjoying a cup of tea on the street and the image of a child emerging from a chimney covered in soot is a keen one, with Lamb showing the complexity of a type of person who likely went generally unremarked upon in the streets of modernizing England.