The Balance of Good and Evil
The Balance of Good and Evil
“The Tyger” by William Blake expresses the idea of the creation of evil. It involves a very powerful rhyming scheme to convey the strength of the matter. Through the use of metaphors relating to certain gods, both Christian and Greek views, the image of the “Tyger” is described. This poem is the second in a pair which was published in his collection Songs of Experience in 1794. Blake’s previously written poem “The Lamb” was written in his collection Songs of Innocence in 1789, and it represents the complete opposite, the creation of good.
Both poems are very necessary to generate the essential question; is the creator of the tiger the same creator of the lamb? Focusing on just “The Tyger,” Blake questions the maker of this evil beast, and the purpose behind the making. “The Lamb” is an extremely important piece to both collections. The poem’s focus is centered by the question of creation, but it does so in a modest way, opening as a simple question to a lovable, fragile creature. “Little Lamb, who made thee?
” (1) In the first stanza of the poem the speaker asks the lamb who is responsible for both life and the creation of this innocent creature with the “softest clothing” and “Gave thee such a tender voice” (6-7). The lamb symbolizes the association between civilization and the natural world. The lamb is also a representation of pastoral innocence, connecting the urban world with God’s creation. Pastoral life holds a great deal of strength in the poem. This collection contains many pastoral scenes.
These peaceful images of life outside of the busy city strongly suggest a sense of peace and tranquility. This connects the characters of the poem to the natural world, where they can consider their existence without the interference of human components. Blake’s tender choice of words creates a spiritual mindset which answers the question in first-person narrative in the second stanza that a higher power is responsible.
In answering as Jesus Christ, Blake presents his own admiration for God: He is called by thy name, For He calls Himself a Lamb. He is meek, and He is mild; He became a little child. I a child, and thou a lamb, We are called by His name. Little Lamb, God bless thee! Little Lamb, God bless thee! (13-20) By stating Jesus Christ as the lamb’s creator, Blake is signifying that everyone is in some respect a lamb created by God. Although Blake’s religious views are clearly stated in both his collection of poems and in biographies, a creation of his own mythology is tied into his work shown by illustration and by the poems themselves.
The second quatrain starts off asking another question, “In what distant deeps or skies burnt the fire of thine eyes? ”(5-6) Distant deeps creates an image of Hell, while skies is referring to Heaven. The eyes are in fact God’s eyes. The question as a whole is asking if it was God in Heaven who created this beast, or Lucifer in hell. Blake is known for using references to Greek gods and goddesses. The question “On what wings dare he aspire? ” (7) depicts Daedalus and his son Icarus who fell from the melting sun after ignoring instructions from his father not to use his wings to fly.
The question immediately following also symbolizes a Greek reference. “What hand dare seized the fire? ” (8) represents the Titan Prometheus who was sentenced eternally to a rock where an eagle would devour his liver over and over everyday, in punishment of stealing fire to benefit human civilization. These Greek depictions help to enhance to message of religious drama. Blake is making a bold statement by asking a question that many of us ask at some point in our lives.
Is the same god who created all the good in the world, specifically represented by the lamb, also the creator of the Tyger, which represents the brutal side of nature, and in the bigger picture, reality. “Did he who make the lamb make thee? ” (20) This questions the probability of a god creating something so beautiful and pure, but then allowing the creation of something so horrible. Blake uses a very interesting and powerful technique with the line “frame thy fearful symmetry” (4,20) He uses it twice, and the first time it begins with “could.
” The second time, however, it begins with “dare. ” The repetition and alteration of the phrase serves as a tool to describe the change of tone from questioning the capability to interrogating the reasoning. Symmetry is important because it shows the relationship betwen the Lamb and the Tyger. They are the same in that they are both part of God’s creation. They are both equally important tools of nature, but they are different in that the lamb represents innocence, youth, and positive aspects of nature, where as the tyger represents the more powerful fearful part of nature.
Though both can be beautiful in their own way. The Tyger is beautiful in a more experienced light, as one recognizes the striking colors and form of this graceful, yet deadly beast, where as the Lamb is seen in a more childish fashion. Both good and evil are present in the world today. Although they each serve different purposes, their contributions to humanity bring each other balance. “The Lamb” and “The Tyger” are equally vital in the intended creation of good and evil, and they share the same creator.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 11 November 2016
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