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William Blake "The Tyger" Essay

1246 words - 5 pages

“The Tyger” by William Blake is a lyric poem that depicts the nature of the creator and his creations. The poem is more about the creator of the tyger than it is about the tyger. In contemplating the terrible ferocity and awe-inspiring symmetry of the tyger, the speaker is at a loss to explain how the same God who made the meek, innocent lamb could create a horrifying creature such as the tyger. This essay will provide a detailed analysis of William Blake’s “The Tyger” paying particular attention, firstly to the extended metaphor in stanza’s 2, 3 and 4, secondly, to the poetic significance of repetition, in particular to the phrase “fearful symmetry”, thirdly, to the role that the rhythm and ...view middle of the document...

Blake does not depict good and evil as opposites but rather different aspects of the nature of God. Good and evil are different and do matter in the natural world, especially in the way that men react with God’s creation.

The very first words expressed by Blake suggests that this tyger has been a “forged” creation “In the forests of the night” nevertheless describes the dark, mysterious, cloaking and hiding fiery figure of the tyger. The “forging” of the tiger suggests a very physical, painstaking, and intentional kind of making; it emphasizes the remarkable physical presence of the tiger and precludes the idea that such a creation could have been in any way accidentally or haphazardly produced. The word “forge” means to create or form is a smith term as well as another name for a smith’s furnace. The smith reference also ties into all the fire imagery associated with the Tyger, and emphasizes the energy and danger in the design of the Tyger. However the third stanza depicts a parallelism of “shoulder” and “art,” that it is not just the body but also the “heart” of the tiger that is being forged. Therefore, this is not merely a physical forgery but also a psychological. Hence “In what furnace was thy brain” moreover suggests that the mind of the tyger is also shaped and twisted under this extreme heat and energy the fire in the “furnace” kindles. In the process of constructing this tyger it therefore becomes the beast that it is thus is “framed” to be; both terrifying and similarly remarkably elegant.

The tiger initially appears as a strikingly sensuous image. However, as the poem progresses, it takes on a symbolic character, and comes to represent the spiritual and moral problem the poem explores; perfectly beautiful and yet perfectly destructive. Blake’s “tyger” becomes the symbolic centre of an investigation into the presence of evil in the world. According to Mary R. and Rodney M. Baine, “Blake consistently used the tiger in the fallen world as a symbol of cruelty, destructiveness, and bestiality. Nowhere does the tiger appear as righteous indignation or Christ militant.”(Mary R. & Rodney M. Baine: 576)
Therefore what this tiger symbolizes is not the typical, blood thirsty predator who possesses purely animalistic characteristics. Unfortunately Blake’s “tyger” is a symbol of the darker side of life, the overwhelming struggle of mankind against the brute force of reality. With this struggle comes growth and maturity. The lamb and tyger, although opposites, are nevertheless each synonymous with the struggle of life, from innocence to harsh experience.

The tiger symbolizing nature red in tooth and claw, the tiger poses the question of the origin of evil and...

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