A Look At Tyger By William Blake English Literature Essay

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"The Tyger" by William Blake is poem "symbolizing nature red in tooth and claw, poses the questions of the origin of evil and the nature of its creator. The perennial problem of believing in a benign creator while viewing a malign universe has been the most agonising of all moral dilemmas…" This essay will provide a critical analysis of "The Tyger" paying particular attention to how each of the questions, the speaker involves the reader in the struggle to understand the "problem of believing in a benign Creator while viewing a malign universe. The poets use of the extended metaphor in stanzas two, three and four. The poetic significance of repetition in the poem, in particular the phrase: "fearful symmetry". The role that the rhythm and metre play in creating an urgent need to address the succession of questions and the evocation of the sublime emotion of terror in Blake's depiction of "The Tyger". (Ferguson et al 2005:743-744)

Firstly, the use of the extended metaphor in stanzas 2, 3 and 4 compares God, to characteristics of a blacksmith. A blacksmith was and still is a powerful built man. His strength allows him to "twist" and "beat" his iron into "art". The poet associates a blacksmith's "dread grasp" and "deadly terrors clasp" with the power, might and authority/dominance that God possesses over his creation, mankind. The creators actions are likened to those of a blacksmith, this is evident in: (l.10) "Could twist the sinews of thy heart? / And when thy heart began to beat, / What dread hand? and What dread feet?", imagery such as these are used by the poet to represent his creation, indirectly the blacksmith who ultimately shares the same "beating heart" with the rest of humanity. However, Blake links the process that a blacksmith uses to create inanimate objects with the Creators design of his creations soul, body and mind. The poet's comparison of God as a blacksmith depicts a 'forgery' of some kind: (l.5) "In what distant deeps or skies / Burnt the fire of thine eyes? / On wings dare he aspire? What the hand dare seize the fire?" illustrates to the reader that this tyger was either created in the "distant deeps" (hell) or "skies" (heaven). The poets use of the words "burnt" and "fire" are associated in most cases with hell, portraying this tyger in a dark, horrifying and fearful way. The poet also describes the Creator as a divine being, "wings" depicts a figure that only a divine being would possess, rather a kind of celestial supremacy "he" has over all of his creations just as the blacksmith has when he creates his objects with brute strength and power. (Ferguson et al 2005:743-744)

The poet also makes use of imagery associated with the tools that a blacksmith uses in creating his work of "art", such as a: (l.13) "hammer", "chain", "furnace" and "anvil", further emphasizing tools that would only be once again associated with "distant deeps" (hell), tools that are used to inflict pain and punishment as stated in the Bible. However, Jon Mee writes, Blake's imagery is imagery highly associated with apocalyptic imagery drawn from the Bible: "the passing away of the present heaven and earth- and the creation of a new heaven and earth. This process involves an overthrowing of earthly powers and the subsequent establishment of God's kingdom." (Roberts 2007:16)

Secondly, the poetic significance of repetition in the poem, in particular the phrase: "fearful symmetry" is what depicts the very structure of the poem itself. The opening lines of the poem, (l.1) "Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright", suggests that this tiger is Blake's depiction of a being with tremendous energy as such that this energy is illuminated outwardly into light that brightens even the darkest of "forests". a depiction of areas that are typically known for their darkness, restrictiveness and densely populated with trees, green mashes, that are also typically known for housing tigers in the wild. "In the forests of the night," emphasizes on the word "forests", when the poet states that this tiger is not only in a forest but he suggests that the tiger is in the "forests in the night". The word "night", emphasizes darkness even more describing the evilness that the creators malign creation possesses. However, in another context, (l.2) "forests in the night" also suggests that this is a depiction of the earth that the human race has blackened, with their corruption and capitalistic governance they exercise over each other, desiring ultimately their Creators divine powers over all of humanity. "What immortal hand or eye / Could frame thy fearful symmetry?" sets the reader already in a melancholic frame of mind with imagery edging towards morbidity. The portrayal of this tiger's characteristics is not at all associated to the typical tiger one would find in any zoo but to a particular type of terrifying, petrifying and frightening authoritative "Tyger" in the poem. The poet makes use of a repetitive poetic device known as anaphora. Anaphora is Greek for "repetition" that can be defined as the deliberate repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of each one of a sequence of sentences, paragraphs, lines of verse, or stanzas. (M.H Abrams 2009:313) The significance of this particular poetic device depicts the equality of the text, in which each inequality of the tiger is balanced by another phrase that makes them both proportionally symmetrical in tone such as (ll. 1-4) "Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright / In the forests of the night, / What immortal hand or eye / Could frame thy fearful symmetry?", these lines are found in the opening lines of the poem and is also the set of lines found ending of the poem, just as a frame encloses a picture and forms a pivotal role in standing firmly and independently in order for the picture to be displayed so too does the creator of the tiger play just as an important role for creating such beauty and at the same time such feared of beast. The tiger is created by its Creator for two reasons: firstly, tigers are generally creatures that are admired for their outer beauty, colour and their established physique. Secondly, for their inner dangerousness that makes the tiger feared by others for its ferocity, viciousness and strength. However, both these qualities attributed to this tiger by its creator make it equally attractive and brutal. (Ferguson et al 2005:743-744)

Another poetic device that places emphasis on the repetition of the poem is illustrated by the rhetorical questions posed by the speaker. The rhetorical questions are meant to question the nature of this tiger and whether it has been created "In the distant deeps or skies", and what fire has burnt its eyes: the good or the bad. The poets state of concern and distress at the time was predominantly over shadowed by the French revolution, that indirectly posing questions of an unknown creature, whose origin is unidentified and mysteriously dark just as the revolutionary events progressed violence, tensions and bloodshed broke out. Thus, the purpose of these questions are meant to with each progressive question clear up the poets dilemma seeking by some means enlightenment. The questions with each stanza increases as the poem progresses to depict that framed within the French revolution at the very beginning seemed peaceful, however with the passing of time certain ideals crept into the minds of some, accusing others of not being revolutionary enough, restlessness increased brutality burst out and questions such as Blake's were frequently posed but to no avail could not be answered. The problem of believing in benign Creator while viewing a malign universe was the reason Blake illustrated in his poem that mankind was created superior to other beings on earth yet they demonstrate animalistic characteristics such as: Blake's depiction of this tiger. Therefore with the industrialization and modernization of mankind, came along destruction and devastation to all of humanity. Thus, the role of repetition in the poem is simply to recreate the fear and unease that individuals experienced under a monarchy and not knowing what solutions could be formulated to remedy the heart, body and minds of the innocent mankind against the experienced. (Ferguson et al 2005:743-744)

Thirdly, the role that rhythm and metre play in creating an urgent need to address the succession of questions. The poem's structure is encompasses six quatrains in rhymed couplets. Throughout the poem the rhythm is formed with one stressed followed by an unstressed syllable, known as Trochiac. Thus, this produces a beating effect in the rhythm and further emphasizes the extended metaphor the beating of the Blacksmith's "anvil" while he forgers his "art" out of metal. Therefore, the urgency that the trochaic rhythm generates to for the need to address the succession of questions is heightened by the beating effect of the Blacksmith. This beating effect is persistent in its tone and unavoidable, just as the questions Blake poses throughout the poem. Blake therefore not only in sight becomes insistent for answers he seeks urgently for the questions posed but also demonstrates this need with sound, highlighting his uncertainties even further. (Ferguson et al 2005:743-744)

Fourthly, the evocation of the sublime emotion of terror in Blake's depiction of The Tyger is depicted as a wild, aggressive portrayal of nature is seen in: (l.4) "Could frame thy fearful symmetry?", thus alluding to the sublime, in that, because fearful is meant to depict a being that is mysteriously very powerful and dangerous makes it feared by all. The word "symmetry" in an orthodox cal connotation stresses on the divinity that this dangerous creature possesses. Therefore, the evocation of the sublime emotion of terror in Blake's depiction is mostly apparent here. As Edmund Burke suggests attributes of the sublime are those things which are: "in any sort terrible" and is "fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger" (M.H Abrams 2009:355). This is clearly demonstrated in Blake's use of imagery, "dread", "seize", "fire", "deadly", "terrors", "fearful", "grasp" and "clasp". Nevertheless, the sublime equates to anything that surpasses or lies outside the known or human ability of understanding in reason. (Ferguson et al 2005:743-744)

In conclusion, "The Tyger" by William Blake paints a morbid, sinister and distressed picture of the Creator's creation by making use of an extended metaphor, of a Blacksmith. The significance of the repetition in the poem, more specifically related to the phrase in, (l.4) "fearful symmetry" , that also alludes to the evocation of the sublime emotion of terror in the depiction of the tiger and the role that the rhythm and metre play in creating an urgent need to address the succession of questions that Blake poses in "The Tyger". This poem from all angles portrays the industrialisation and modernization shifting away from the path to salvation, choosing rather the bad over the good contrary to sacred texts, thus leading mankind ultimately to self destruct, leaving nothing and no one on earth and "The Tyger" thus depicts this very image of life. (Ferguson et al 2005:743-744)