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The Tyger and the Lamb

In order to look at William Blake’s poem “Tyger! Tyger!” one must also look at “The Lamb.” The lamb and the tyger show the two contrary states of the human soul with respect to creation while asking what kind of god could make both. Blake’s questioning of God reflects the influence of the Enlightenment period.

God is represented in two different ways by Blake. In “Tyger! Tyger!,” Blake asks what kind of god could make such a fearful creature. In this God, it is easy to insert the image of an angry, wrathful God, immensely powerful; one who does not always use his power for good. Paradoxically, in “The Lamb,” God is described as being “meek and mild”. This is the typical description of the Christian God: a forgiving and loving God who takes care of his “children”. This God gives the Lamb “clothing of delight,/softest clothing, wooly bright”.

The Tyger and the Lamb can be interpreted as the two contrary states of the human soul. The Tyger is the part of human nature that is not inherently good. This “tyger” state if being is fierce and terrible, with “fearful symmetry.” Blake seems to be referring to the Tyger as being a sort of mirror image of the angry, vengeful God.

However, the Lamb is the part of human nature which Christians would like to believe mirrors God. The Lamb is also a prominent figure in the Christian religion, representing God’s human “children”. The Lamb is typically portrayed as being meek and in need of protection.

Blake’s “The Tyger” is a poem about the nature of creation, much as is “The Lamb.” However, this poem takes on the darker side of creation, when its benefits are less obvious than simple joys. This poem is meant to be interpreted in comparison and contrast to “The Lamb,” showing the two contrary states of the human soul with respect to creation.


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