The Tyger, by William Blake is a classical literary work. It has both deep theological meaning as well as cunning use of advanced literary technique to deliver its message to an audience through a series of cleverly written metaphors, rhyme and structure. This analysis will attempt to describe one of many possible motif’s Blake could have had while writing this poem. Blake’s Tyger is not, in the normal and familiar sense of the word, actually a Tiger. The poem is not in old English, nor is the word tiger even different in Old English.
It can be assumed, then, that the Tyger is either a terrible creature or a pseudonym for something familiar to the readers. Given the context of the remainder of the poem, which will be discussed in depth later, the reader can conclude that the Tyger is not a terrible creature, or anything fictitious. Tyger! Tyger! burning brightIn the forests of the night,What immortal hand or eyeCould frame thy fearful symmetry? The first stanza begins to describe the terrible nature of The Tyger. Blake personifies the Tyger as burning and bright. Both of these adjectives are usually positive.
Think “burning passion” or “bright young student. ” In this case, however, taking the context of the next line into consideration, the Tyger is anything but burning and bright in the traditional sense. In the setting of a forest, burning is a symbol of terrible danger, especially to the environment around it. The Tyger is also bright, signifying that it is flashy and attention-catching. The next two lines describe an intelligent creator. Blake questions what kind of creator would make something so “fearful” and so terrible as the Tyger.
This is the passage that, as mentioned earlier, rules out the possibility of the Tyger being a fictitious entity. It would have to be real for its creator to be questioned in such a way. In what distant deeps or skiesBurnt the fire of thine eyes? On what wings dare he aspire? What the hand dare seize the fire? The second stanza solidifies the evil of the Tyger. As shown earlier, the fire signifies a danger to its surroundings. The second line of this stanza signifies that the evil of the Tyger is from outside of this world. Blake is writing that the Tyger is inhuman in its evil.
It is unfathomably distant from us. In the third line, Blake moves back to third person, and talking about the Creator rather than speaking in second person to the Tyger. He accuses the creator of overstepping his bounds. The line basically says: How dare you? Blake then continues his accusation, accusing the creator of taking this fire (of thine eyes) and bringing it from the “distant deeps” to place in the Tyger. The Creator essentially brought the evil (fire) from somewhere that it was and brought it to where it was not.
And what shoulder, & what artCould twist the sinews of thy heart? And when thy heart began to beat,What dread hand? & what dread feet? The first line of this stanza addresses the labor of the Creator in making the Tyger, as well as the craft in it. Shoulders are a significant body part in exhausting manual labor, and the use of the word art is not the same as the modern definition. Creation was an art, as in a trade skill or craft. The second line once again refers to the evil and corrupt nature of the Tyger, as well as beginning to shift the true evil to the creator.
Both lines paired together question the nature of an omnipotent creator. How does evil exist from nothing? The next lines continue to define the evilness of the Tyger, switching back to second person. What the hammer? what the chain? In what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil? what dread graspDare its deadly terrors clasp? This stanza continues to question the true nature of the creator. Hammers, Chains, furnaces and anvils are all tools for creating something. With an omnipotent being, however, the creator is the tool. What kind of hammer could forge a being so evil?
Again, Blake brings up the issue of how does a truly and purely good creator create an evil being. When the stars threw down their spears,And watered heaven with their tears,Did he smile his work to see? Did he who made the Lamb make thee? This stanza is the most important of the poem in terms of defining the Tyger. The first two lines are a direct allusion to Lucifer’s betrayal and exile from Heaven. When one-third of the angels were cast out, they fell to hell. When one thinks of being exiled from heaven, it surely wasn’t a pleasant experience.
The angels would fall, like shooting stars, stripped of their grace. They weep at the feet of God, but are still sentenced to their punishment. Blake then ties his critique of the intelligent creator with the evil of the Tyger which it is apparent is Satan. When this happened; when the angels were sentenced to an eternity of torment, pain and suffering, Blake questions God. Was he happy with this? Did he smile to see the torment that his design created? The last line of this stanza asks a rhetorical question. The Lamb is, of course, Jesus.
If God created this pure good, he also created the pure evil. How? This poem, cleverly masked as describing a monster, is actually questioning God. How could a God that represents true love and goodness create something so evil without first having that evil in itself. How can something be truly omnipotent and only good. It is an impossibility. If this is the case, and God created everything, and had a plan for every being and object, then he had a plan for the Tyger, just as he had a plan for the Lamb. Is one more noble than the other? Can humanity achieve salvation without temptation?
Why then is the Devil sentenced to a lifetime of Hellfire and torment, while Jesus will sit with his Father at the Throne? Through the web of metaphor and rhyme, William Blake engages his audience with a deep theological flaw capable of shaking the faith of many who contemplate it. Something as terrible and inhumanly evil as Lucifer was created by a being heralded for his love, goodness and purity despite the fact that he knowingly and willfully sentenced both his most beautiful angel and one-third of his winged worshippers as well as a majority of Humanity to eternal fire by creating evil.