The Tyger

Duality in William Blake’s the Tyger

April 13, 2021 by Essay Writer

English author William Blake was notorious for his anti-authoritative poetry that challenged organized religion during the time of the Industrial Revolution. Regarded as one of his most acclaimed works, his poem The Tyger molds together a series of rhetorical questions that seek to understand the meaning behind the creation of the ferocious tiger by a God with ostensibly cryptic intentions. By using deliberate symbolism, the poem The Tyger written by William Blake criticizes the motivations of a God that allows for good and evil to coexist and supports the belief that creations are a direct reflection of their creators.

The narrator’s fascination of a fearsome tiger, the main symbol of the poem, represents not only God’s capacity of creating evil, but also alludes to the idea that God himself possesses an evil side to him. Right from the first stanza, and repeated once more in the final stanza of the poem, the unknown narrator says “What immortal hand or eye/ Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” (3-4), questioning the inception of such a marvelous creature and deciding that it could not have come about by chance. The creator of such an animal, undoubtedly God, is described as “immortal” (3) to emphasize the scope of his power. Yet what is noteworthy of this line is the acknowledgement of the tiger’s “fearful symmetry” (4), a point that highlights the duality in the capturing beauty of the tiger as well as its bloodthirsty nature. Combining these two features into one being itself seems like a cruel prank played by God because a dangerous animal is given power in its alluring appearance, which is an ill-intentioned concoction. Its existence hints at the belief that an evil design requires an evil designer and calls into questions God’s reasoning for even allowing the existence of evil. This is further considered when the tiger is put in stark contrast to the lamb mentioned, “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” (20). The lamb is widely referred to as a symbol of innocence and gentleness, which increases the impact of the tiger as a symbol of ferocity. This contrast between both of God’s creations is an example of the symmetry mentioned in the first stanza and is an attempt to explain the necessity of equilibrium in the universe, letting the reader contemplate that without the existence of one extreme, the dangerous tiger, the other extreme, the gentle lamb, cannot exist. Likewise, the poem suggests that this was perhaps God’s intention all along in that for goodness to thrive, evil must first stand in its way. This bold notion may seem beyond human comprehension because the natural inclination for humans is to desire unending goodness, hence the hopefulness of reaching a paradisiacal heaven for most religious individuals. Yet, the poem begs its reader to consider that God created the universe in such a way that allows for the existence of opposing forces in order to fully express his power and godship, that which does not require the understanding of God’s subjects.

Another impactful symbol utilized in Blake’s poem is the blacksmith that he uses to personify the tiger’s creator and assign additional characteristics to the purity of the creator’s intentions. We see the introduction of the blacksmith symbol in the fourth stanza when the narrator wonders if the creator used a hammer, chain, furnace, and anvil to forge the deadly tiger, all tools of typical use to a blacksmith (13-15). The theory that all these tools were needed to create the tiger emphasize the deliberate intention behind God’s doings and makes the readers ponder over the meaning behind God’s seemingly painstakingly difficult task. In essence, if God was willing to go through the trouble of creating such a ferocious animal, then God must have regarded the tiger’s existence as necessary to create balance in a world of innocence that had not yet been tainted by the tiger’s presence.

In similar fashion to the symbol of the blacksmith, the symbol of fire used throughout reminds the audience of the danger behind God’s task of creating the tiger, and thus God’s ability to be dangerous. The nature of a blacksmith’s job is to use fire and heat to wield metal into different shapes, which requires not only great skill, but also a degree of courage to work in a possibly hazardous job. The poem demonstrates this at the end of the second stanza in the line “What the hand, dare seize the fire?” (8). In this line, the narrator is in awe that God would be so daring so as to metaphorically put his hand in a fire for the payoff of his evil creation, shedding light to God’s more cunning side. The narrator again references fire by describing the tiger as “burning bright/ In the forests of the night” (1-2) and as having fire burning in its eyes (6). This imagery of fire contributes to the allure of the tiger’s appearance, similar to how God is portrayed as welcoming and all-loving, but the narrator begs the readers to remember that fire itself is a perilous object, warning that God himself is not to be played around with lest anyone suffer the burn of his consequences. Should humans then fear God for his powerful yet hateful creations, or should they commemorate God for all the good that he has allowed to flourish and might continue to bestow on humanity? The poem is setup as a series of rhetorical questions, implying that this debate is up to the reader’s interpretation, but the poem achieves its goal of convincing the reader to scrutinize God’s work and challenge its purpose, with the implication that the concurrence between good and evil that exists in the world is simply a physical manifestation of God’s power.

William Blake’s The Tyger uses symbolism to criticize the intentions of a daring and experienced God in his noble and in his bad creations. Being compared to a daring blacksmith who plays with fire, God demonstrates just how far his authority can reach. The imagery behind a beautiful tiger stands in stark contrast to its violent nature, which in turn opposes the gentle nature of the symbolic goodness of a lamb. To experience a world where both of these clashing forces are allowed, and even encouraged, to exist uncovers the power behind God’s unexplainable actions in creating harmony in the world. Much like the ferocious tiger cannot prevail unless it can prey on the innocent lamb, God’s divinity cannot be fully realized if his benevolent creatures are not balanced by his more pernicious creations.

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My Impression from the Tyger Poem

April 13, 2021 by Essay Writer

The Tyger: Annotation 1

When first reading the poem The Tyger by William Blake, it is hard to tell if the poem is referring to an actual tiger. The first stanza opens up with a repetition of “Tyger! Tyger!” which somewhat sounds like a shout, and sets the mood for the rest of the poem. The shouting could maybe even be seen as a warning. The rest of the stanza uses words like “immortal” and “fearful” which goes to make readers question if the author is referring to a tiger or more of a higher being. The word fearful also makes the Tyger seem powerful and adds to the overall mystery.

In the second stanza, it sounds like there is a question of where the Tyger came from. The words “distant deeps or skies” makes it sound like the Tyger is from a far away or possibly other worldly place. The next two lines seem to bring in another character, but still remains mysterious. The speaker refers to this second character as “he,” which may be assumed as the creator of the Tyger. A hand is also brought up, which I assume belongs to said “he.” If the Tyger was created by someone’s hand, it sounds like this creator is in some way divine. “He” seems to have some sort of Godly power to create something like the Tyger.

The next stanza seems to go back to the creator of the Tyger. It questions what kind of strength or creativity it would take to create the Tyger by asking what shoulder and art it takes. Again, going back to the possibility of the Tyger’s creator being Godly or unearthly. Mystery is still one of the main themes of the poem because so much about the Tyger is still unknown. The end of the stanza takes a slightly different turn. When it refers to a heart starting to beat, the word dread appears twice. I think this sounds like when the Tyger comes to life, all fear it. The beginning of the poem made the Tyger sound very powerful and definitely a force to be reckoned with. Along with this appearance of fear comes the mystery of what the Tyger is and where the Tyger came from.

The fourth stanza is still going on about the creation of the Tyger. I think that when the hammer and chain are mentioned, there is speculation about maybe those were tools used to create the Tyger. It then goes on to talk about a furnace which sounds like a reference to someone who creates things with a furnace like a blacksmith or a metallurgist. The next line speaks of an anvil, which goes again to maybe say that the Tyger was created with tools. Maybe this is alluding to the fact that the Tyger was created like a machine. This could refer to the fact that the Tyger is as strong as a machine, if not stronger. The end of this stanza brings back the word dread, which was repeated in the last stanza. The word dread and the last line bring a scarier and more mysterious vibe back.

The fifth stanza sounds slightly religious. There is mention of heaven, going back to the original thought of divinity in the poem. Also the word “he” is brought back, talking about the Tyger’s creator. Especially in this stanza, the “he” sounds like God. The last line alludes the biblical symbol for Jesus Christ, the lamb. I think that the author is making a comparison here by wondering how someone who created such a gentle creature, the lamb, could also create something so mysteriously fear-inducing. Both creatures show different power, but also divinity.

The final stanza is a repetition of the first stanza. The only difference between the two stanzas is that the word “could” from the first is changed to “dare” in the last. This change in words is definitely deliberately done and carries a message. I think that it starts out with more of a wondering of who has the capability to create such a creature but the final stanza goes back and says who would want to create the Tyger, something so mysterious. The speaker makes it sound like creating the Tyger would be taking a risk, because not even the creator knows what the Tyger could be capable of with the power it beholds.

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The Mood Swing Through Creative Language: Comparing Two Poems

November 3, 2020 by Essay Writer

Men at Forty and The Tyger are two intense poems written using creative language that seems to alter each piece’s mood drastically. These two poems discussing strong, bold things are transformed into soft spoken stanzas that float off the reader’s tongue and resonate like peaceful songs. Donald Justice uses gentle words throughout Men at Forty to display a sense of smoothness and innocence in his poem while William Blake plays with rhymed couplets to portray this same reading experience.

Justice’s poem, Men at Forty, written in 1967, tells the story of a young boy and how he grows up to be a man like his father. There are scenes in which the subject – an older man – looks back at himself as a young boy while he “practices tying / His father’s tie” providing the reader with a strong visual image of how the boy will turn into the man that his father is. Although this aging seems graceful at first, other parts of the poem display the hardships that come with leaving childhood and becoming an older man. Examples of this are when the author describes the man “At rest on a stair landing, / [He feels] it moving.” With age the body changes and it may become less reliable which is why the man needs breaks like this one. This is where the darker, more harsh parts of the poem come in.

Blake’s 1794 poem, The Tyger, is different from Men at Forty in that it immediately gives off a sense of darkness. While Justice’s poem danced around and swayed between positive and negative aspects of growing old, Blake’s poem delves straight into this intense poem full of questions that almost demand the reader for answers. His piece describes a strong, harsh animal and questions its creator. Blake asks what kind of creature would dare make such an intense, deadly being as a tiger.

One would expect Men at Forty to be strong or harsh sounding to match the characters of the poem however this is not how the poem turned out. There is a sense of smoothness to be found at least once in each stanza. In the first stanza the word “softly” stands out. With the second stanza one might find themselves focusing on the words “swell” and “gentle.” In the third stanza gentle terms like “warm” and “lather” are to be found. Finally, the word “twilight” is embedded in the last stanza. Justice’s choice of language in this poem drastically changes what a reader would expect to find from reading the poem’s title. The contrast between initial predictions and the end result of the poem are therefore unexpected, very similar to Blake’s work in his poem.

The Tyger was unpredictable and was created in a way that the language differed from the initial thoughts a reader might have about it, similar to Men at Forty. However, rather than smooth and gentle language being the cause of this unpredictability, the contradictory qualities of this poem are results of rhyme. The musicality put in place by Blake throughout this poem gives it an upbeat and innocent sound that very clearly goes against the sense of harshness that the title gives off. He implements a rhymed couplets rhyme scheme in each stanza throughout the poem to give this seemingly serious poem its lighter, more musical tone and therefore the darkness of the words in this poem are metaphorically brightened by the sounds it creates.

Although Justice’s and Blake’s tactics to lighten up their initially serious or harsh seeming poems are different, the two poets manage to create a well thought out balance between the dark undertones that are present in each and the upbeat qualities that come with gentle phrases and musicality.

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