’s Corruption Essay, Research Paper
William Blake’s “The Tyger,” meant to be read in conjunction with Blake’s “The Lamb,” tells a tale of two sides. While “The Lamb” speaks of softness and goodness, “The Tyger” tells of a powerful and evil nature. Blake asks the Tyger the question “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?”(line 20). This question represents the overall theme of the poem. How can two creations be opposite in so many ways yet related-or are they related to each other? “The Tyger” questions the truth of a two sided world and of a God that creates both good and evil. The reader’s initial reaction to “Tyger,” as used in the title and in the poem, asks if the word is spelled incorrectly. Should the word be spelled Tiger? The belief that every word in a poem has a distinct purpose answers the question with a no. Blake spells the word as “Tyger” to serve as a metaphor. “Tyger” at a most basic level represents all beasts of the world. At a more detailed level, the word represents a sharp contrast from the softness and goodness of “the Lamb.” “Tyger! Tyger! burning bright / In the forests of the night, / What immortal hand or eye / Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” (Lines 1-4) Blake calls the “Tyger” twice in the beginning stanza to gain the creature’s attention. The poem then offers a brief view of the creature and its setting. This view tells of the evil of this creature. “Burning bright” creates a picture of a fire and a symbol of hell. “The night” adds to the portrayal of evil. Blake then asks the “Tyger,” What “immortal hand” (God) could create this “fearful symmetry?”(lines 3 and 4). This “symmetry” relates the “Tyger” to the “Lamb” and through the metaphor, Satan to Jesus. Given this interpretation, the question asks how God could create both the ultimate of good and the ultimate of evil. “In what distant deeps or skies / Burnt the fire of thine eyes? / On what wings dare he aspire? / What the hand dare seize the fire?” (Lines 5-8) The first two lines ask where the evil came from that created the Devil. The Christian world holds a belief that God is the ultimate good. If this is true, where would this evil have come from? Line eight, “On what wings dare he aspire?”, gives reference to Satan being an angel of God. The Bible tells of Satan’s fall from grace (Isaiah 14:12-15). The last line in the stanza asks the “Tyger” who “seized the fire.” Did God create this evil and cause Satan to become evil or did Satan get this evil from some hidden place (”distant deeps or skies”)? Blake leaves this question and many others unanswered and allows the reader to make his/her own judgement. “And what shoulder, & what art, / Could twist the sinews of thy heart? / And when thy heart began to beat, / What dread hand? & what dread feet?” (Lines 9-12) Many readers will need to enlist the aid of a dictionary to determine the meaning of “sinews.” The definition of sinew is connective tissue or supporting force. From this definition, the first two lines then ask what creature or art could have changed Satan from a glorious angel of God to the present day evil entity. The word “art” may also be a reference to a tiger. The tiger’s poise and hunting skill is often referenced as that of art. Next, the poem tells of the actual creation of the “Tyger”/Satan (Line 11). The next four lines ask a variety of questions about this new creation. Who originally asked these questions? An entire read of the poem gives evidence that God asks these questions.
“What the hammer? what the chain? / In what furnace was thy brain? / What the anvil? what dread grasp / Dare its deadly terrors clasp?” (Lines 13-16) This stanza continues the questions that God asks after the creation of the evil Satan. Given that Blake wrote this poem at the beginning of the industrial revolution, these lines give evidence that the poem can be interpreted as a symbol of the industrial revolution and its positive and negative effects on society. “Hammer,” “chain,” “furnace,” and “anvil” provide this illustration of the industrial revolution. “When the stars threw down their spears / And water’d heaven with their tears, / Did he smile his work to see? / Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” (Lines 17-20) Lines 17 through 19 follow directly with the story of Satan’s fall from heaven (Isaiah 14:12-15). These lines also parallel the Bible’s tale of Revelations. “Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth (Revelation 9:1).” The stars are an obvious symbol of heaven. The throwing “down of their spears” symbolizes God casting Satan out of heaven. The Bible then tells of great sadness in heaven due to the loss of a brother. Blake then asks if God was happy with the creation. This stanza ends with Blake questioning the “Tyger.” “Did he who made the Lamb make thee (Line 20)?” Blake questions if the God that created “the Lamb”/Jesus also created “the Tyger”/Satan. “Tyger! Tyger! burning bright / In the forests of the night, / What immortal hand or eye / Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” (Lines 21-24) The repetition of the first stanza here represents several aspects of the poem. First, these questions are unanswerable by the reader. Who actually knows the answer to these questions? Second, the repetition of this stanza adds “symmetry” to the poem. Both the beginning and the end of the poem are now identical and thus symmetric. Blake uses “The Tyger” to ask several rhetorical questions about the power or even existence of God. Did this evil that created Satan come from some hidden aspect of God or did Satan find his power in some source other than God (”distant deeps or skies”) (Line 5)? These questions have no definitive answer, and Blake makes no attempt to comment on them. Blake does not ask these questions expecting to find an answer. He asks these questions because the questions have to be asked. Would the answers to these question of where this evil came from benefit humanity? The answer to that is probably not, but the pursuit of these questions will help the reader to discover his/her own humanity.