William Blake's "The Tyger" and "The Lamb", Literary Essay Example

Published: 2022-02-22
William Blake's "The Tyger" and "The Lamb", Literary Essay Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  William Blake
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1380 words
12 min read

William Blake was a great 18th-century poet, visionary, artist, and mystic, who was born and bred in London between 1757 and 1827. He produced great works that were born from his vision and imagination that was frowned upon all through his young life. Indeed, much of his work was not appreciated during his time. His view at the time that art was primarily for revealing truths of the spirit world through liberating visions and imaginations was widely criticized. Even with that, he went on with his romantic style of writing all through his life, questioning religion and politics. His was a personal agenda to utilize his art and insight to raise public awareness with the main aim of revealing and seeking the truth. Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience are some of his popular accounts that reflect the themes of good and bad, innocence and knowledge, and heaven and hell. The Tyger and The Lamb are part of these series of poems with The Tyger part of Songs of Experience and The Lamb in Songs of Innocence. This paper aims at explaining how the two Blake poems; "The Tyger and The Lamb," depend on a reading of both to fully express the poet's intent.

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The two poems, "The Tyger" and "The Lamb" are identified to suggest more about the nature of God. The idea of the two poems is that the same God who created the lamb is the same one who created the tiger (the theme of good and evil). As such, it falls without mentioning that unless it is suggested that God created evil, then the tiger cannot be evil. The two creations suggest two different sides of God. According to Blake, good and evil are not extremities of each other, rather, evil's ambiguous sense is not evil but is the opposite side of good. To go further, Blake did not believe in the notion of contradicting opinions. He was of the view that people cannot be 100% good or 100% evil and if that was inexistent in human beings, then it was also inexistent in God. As such, to fully capture the understanding of the theme of good and evil, it is best to read both poems to understand this theme fully.

Another importance of reading the two poems is that they are somewhat a contrasting view of each other. "The Lamb" was a simple poem in style and structure. Blake chose a child to be the narrator of the poem which portrayed innocence as was the main theme of the series (Songs of Experience). The poem symbolized the lamb to represent Christ. Many interpreters have taken the lamb as a representation of God's nature represented through particular characteristics that present themselves such as goodness and purity, meekness and mild. On the flip side, "The Tyger" is speculation of evil. As denoted above, it is the counterpart and opposing the view of "The Lamb." Indeed, the whole series, Songs of Experience was a direct response to the initial series Songs of Innocence that had "The Lamb" featuring in it. Continuing with the story, the portrayed child in The Lamb is seen in The Tiger to have matured into adulthood. His innocence has been affected by negativity and harsh experiences that reality imposes on life. It is a representation of the destructive nature of the tiger. At this stage, Blake changes the theme of good and portrays evil through his symbolism, allusiveness, and deceptiveness. The use of tyger is symbolic as it is a representation of not only the tyger but all ferocious wild cats.

From this explanation above, it is clear that it is also important to read the two to capture the true message of the poems because they are one story. This means that they are a continuous sequence which is well presented by the growth of the child in The Lamb to adulthood in The Tyger. It, therefore, means that reading one poem without the other only gives half the story which will distort the poet's intent and development of the poem and series in general. It would be wise, however, to begin with, The Lamb and finish with The Tyger to well capture the flow of the story and have a better understanding of how the poems develop and move through the two poems.

Continuing further about the contrasting viewpoints as presented by the poems, they are a representation of two opposites. One opposite represents the fear of God whilst the other is a representation of praise or faith of God symbolized in nature. The fear of God is expressed by the innocence of the child seen to be pure whereas the praise or faith in God is seen in the growth of the tiger earning stripes and getting tough, ferocious and ready for the world. The Tyger is not construed as evil in all sense although its toughness and ferocious attitude make it seem evil. However, there is a sense of uniqueness that the tiger has as Blake symbolizes it in the poems. Its fearful symmetry and the ability to glow its bright colors in the night could cause fear but also show how the harshness of the world could also make one mature into a beautiful yet tough being.

The paragraph above represents an ironic twist in that although they are different poems contrasting one another, they are also bound together bouncing off one another. The two poems bounce off one another because they have the same characters in both poems. God is the same creator in both and the themes of good and evil traverse all aspects of the poems. The poems sit at extreme ends of the spirituality spectrum with humanity sitting at the middle. The spectrum needs all these aspects to make sense as you cannot have one without the other. For instance, in order to have good, evil has to balance it out, and the common denominator is humanity. As such, to capture this explanation in its entirety through reading Blake's works, it is important to ensure that The Lamb precedes The Tiger when reading as it will align well and make more sense for the reader which fully expresses Blake's intent.

It is also important to understand the symbolism of the poems to the time they were written. The Lamb is a representation of the "Agrarian Revolution" whereas The Tyger represents the "Industrial Revolution." As such, the poems can also be construed to depict the historical periods of the 1700s. Viewing the poems in this manner means that it is possible to identify the two periods and compare them. The Agrarian Revolution is seen as a mild manner, and innocent way of utilizing simple machines and farming techniques to increase farm production whereas the industrial revolution is seen as the robust and ferocious manner of industrializing many aspects of life that changed the face of humanity. Similar to the poem, the Agrarian Revolution was a precursor of the Industrial Revolution, and one could not exist without the other. The two poems depend on a reading of both to bring out this understanding in a better way for the reader and to a larger extent, any historian.

In conclusion, The Tyger and The Lamb were great works of art that although found in different series, are connected. It is important to read the two poems together to fully capture the intent of the poet as well as understand the true message that is being passed through these poems. Considering that the Tyger is a follow up of The Lamb in that the character in The Lamb (the lamb itself) is all grown up to be the tiger in The Tyger means that it is important to read the two poems together to have a good flow of the story. Also, it is important to understand the contrasting idea that is presented in the poems. The Lamb stands on one side to represent innocence whereas The Tyger stands on the opposite side representing "evil" although Blake depicts "evil" to mean the opposite side of good that is not necessarily bad. On this note, it is good to have both contrasting views of the themes of good and evil, and innocence and experience which are only presented by reading the poems together.

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