The Tyger Symbol Analysis
The Tyger Symbol Analysis
The symbol of the Tyger is one of the two central mysteries of the poem (the other being the Tyger’s creator). It is unclear what it exactly symbolizes, the Tyger could be inspiration, the divine, artistic creation, history, the sublime (the big, mysterious, powerful and sometimes scary, or vision itself. Really, the list is almost infinite. The point is, the Tyger is important, and Blake’s poem barely limits the possibilities. Line 7: “Wings” are what the creator uses to “aspire” to the creation of the Tyger. Essentially, they are the power or inspiration that allows the creator to “dare” go about the task of creating the Tyger.
Smith Tools (“Hammer,” “chain,” “furnace,” “anvil”) Stanza 4: In the poem, these tools make up an extended metaphor of the creator and his creation of the Tyger. A blacksmith uses these tools to make objects out of super-hot metal. The word “forge” – to create orform – is a smith term as well as another name for a smith’s furnace. The smith reference also ties into all the fire imagery associated with the Tyger, and heightens the energy and danger of the Tyger’s creation. If you don’t think forging metal is hot or dangerous, you might want to visit even a modern-day steel mill.
Line 20: When you read the word “lamb,” always first think: symbol of Jesus Christ (“the Lamb of God”). As the tradition holds, animals such as lambs were sacrificed to God or gods in general until God offered his Son, Jesus Christ – his lamb – as the final sacrifice for the sins of mankind. In line 20, Blake references a version of Christianity that states that God created Jesus. Blake asks whether God, who created Jesus, also created the Tyger. Also, don’t forget that “The Lamb” is the title of another poem by Blake, from the Songs of Innocence.
The body parts referenced in this poem – hands, eyes, shoulders, and feet – are examples of synecdoche. Synecdoche is when a part of something is used to refer to the whole thing. For example, when someone yells “All hands on deck! ” he doesn’t actually mean that he wants a bunch of severed hands on the deck; rather, he wants the people and their hands to help with the ship. So, the phrase “immortal hand” references the whole being or person that the hand belongs to, while at the same time focusing on the hands as the means of creation.
The eye is representative of the whole body and person, but lso focuses our attention on the faculty of sight. Also, by including only parts of the creator in the actually poem, Blake contributes to the mystery of who or what he actually is. It’s like having only a few extreme close-ups of a person: you can see the hands, shoulder, feet, and eyes, but you can’t see the whole package, and that means you can’t even tell who you’re looking at. The fire serves multiple purposes as an extended metaphor. First, it’s often associated with the Tyger, which contributes to the Tyger’s ferocity and sublimity (the fact it’s big, powerful, and mysterious).
Fire is also a source of energy, and since the Tyger seems to be filled with fire, then he must also be filled with energy. In another sense, the fire of the smith’s furnace is the fire of creation, the means by which the Tyger was formed. Setting An abstract setting; “Forests of the night” and “distant deeps or skies” The settings of “The Tyger,” or at least the worlds this poem seems to conjure up, are extremely varied. In general, though, it takes place in the abstract, without much more than “Forests of the night,” and “distant deeps or skies,” to give the reader any sense of location.
However, the lack of a concrete setting is just as important as the presence. Think of watching a play in a theatre in which the whole stage is dark except for one spotlight. There is no setting in the sense of it taking place in a house or in a field – it’s abstract. The most important quality, then, is that it has no obvious setting, just like the poem. Blake has placed the spotlight on the Tyger, but where it is, or where the speaker is, are not part of the equation. Leaving the setting fluid keeps the themes fluid and abstract as well.
It also highlights what setting is there, if fairly vague. The “forests of the night” are dark and mysterious, cloaking and hiding the fiery symbol of the Tyger. The “distant deeps or skies” bring to mind the notions of Hell being underground and Heaven being in the sky. Since the Tyger may have been created in either Hell (deeps) “or” Heaven (skies), it remains ambiguous as to whether the Tyger is good or bad. Regardless, it would seem to us that being in the forests of the night with a “fearful,” “burning” Tyger on the loose, is scary, whether abstract or not.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 25 November 2016
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