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Symbols are found within all works of literature. As the class read the given readings, symbols like darkness often appeared. Darkness as a symbol can take many forms. One of the most common forms is animals. While some animals represent purity like sheep, others represent evil like tigers. Tigers represent darkness because of their killing nature and ferocious appearance. Many authors use animals to represent darkness because they are easy to relate to the average reader. Authors like Edgar Allen Poe and William Blake use animals in some of their most famous pieces of literature.
In Edgar Allen Poe’s the Raven. The raven represents the darkness of the protagonist’s heart and inner thoughts.
In William Blake’s Songs of Innocence: the Tyger, tigers represent evil. In this poem Blake questions, why such an evil animal would even be created by god, if god is as pure as people make him out to be. The symbolism within these two pieces of literature expand the authors mental illustration of the plot.
As these animals appear in the text, they are written in ways that portray how they are evil. For instance, in the Tyger, Blake writes “did he smile his work to see” ( Blake line 19), hinting that there was no way god was satisfied when he made such an evil animal. When animals are seen as evil they are often referred to as beast. The repetition of these animals ensure that the reader never loses focus of the underlying theme and tone of the work.
Edgar Allen Poe’s the raven takes place in the narrator’s home on a cold December night. As the protagonist is reading, he is reminiscing on the death of his beloved wife Eleanora. He feels as though everyone he loves always leaves no matter the circumstances. As he continues reading he hears knocking. When he hears knocking on the window, he opens the window and a raven appears. Ravens within themselves have many indications of darkness and have been seen as dark animals for many years. Ravens are black, mysterious, and gloomy similar to the tone of the poem. The narrator asks the raven a series of questions in which the raven repeatedly replied “nevermore”. This repetition gave the narrator no hopes in seeing his beloved ever again. The narrator initially thinks the raven is heaven sent but quickly realizes otherwise when the raven crushes his hopes of everlasting love. If any other bird was used in this poem, the poem would have a different effect. For example, if the raven was substituted with a dove they poem would be seen in a lighter manner. It is because of the dark symbolism of the raven and the repetition of the raven that Edgar Allen Poe’s the raven is as dark and mysterious of a poem as it is.
William Blake’s the Tyger is about how tigers are evil dark animals that shouldn’t have been created. The tiger’s bright colors are similar to that of fire. If all animals are divine, how is such a creature possible? This is the question the reader must answer when analyzing this poem. The dark nature of the tiger in its natural habitat exemplifies how the tiger can be portrayed as darkness. In the forest, the tiger stalks its prey till it’s time to strike. Many tigers in other forms of literature are seen as evil scheming beast. The tiger when compared to the lamb is in no way pure. Unlike the tiger lambs are pure and white. A lamb could cause no harm like a tiger can. The repetition of the tiger creates a sense of urgency when reading this poem. All in all, the symbolism of the tiger is dark and Blake uses the repetition of tiger to create the tone of the poem.
All in all, both poems use two very different animals to symbolize darkness. Both animals are dark in their own respectable manners. The repetition in the Raven differs from the Tyger because the raven is used repeatedly to convey the inner thoughts of the narrator, versus the repetition of the tiger to enhance the dark edge tone of the Tyger. The appearance of both these animals is uneasy, hence why they are often used as dark symbols.
Notes, spark. “SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE SUMMARY.” SparkNotes,
SparkNotes, 2009, www.sparknotes.com/poetry/blake/section6/.
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