William Blake exemplifies the rebellious and questioning spirit of the Romantic age in the various poems he wrote. This rebellious spirit especially exemplified in his most famous poem, “The Tyger,” which was published in a book of poems he wrote entitled Songs of Experience. The poem takes the reader on a journey of faith, questioning god and his nature. By asking a series of rhetorical questions, Blake is forcing the reader to think about the possibility that God is not just the meek and gentle God that a child embraces, but a much more complex being, one that creates and allows both evil and beauty to coexist.
In order to explore the poets uncertainty, it’s important to examine the various images used to describe the tiger. In doing so, one realizes that this beast represents evil. In the first stanza, Blake is not merely looking at an animal and wondering how it was made, but he is using the animal allegorically. Blake speaks directly to the tyger, an animal who lives “in the forests of the night" (2). The fierceness and cunningness of the tiger that lurks in the darkness seeking out its prey is a metaphor that gives the reader a vivid mental picture of who believers call Satan, the enemy of God.
Blake does not view the tyger as a dimly burning animal, but as "bright" and full of fire or hell, suggesting that the devil is not a weak being. He questions, "What immortal hand or eye/ Could frame thy fearful symmetry? " (3-4). The word "immortal" is used because it is clear that no human could create the "fearful" creature that has him so intrigued. Thus, this dark, malevolent creation causes Blake to immediately pose the question of who could create such being. Blake questions the source of this creature by asking the tyger from what “deeps or skies” (5) he came from and who made his “eyes” of “fire” (6).
Blake does not have an answer yet but is searching for it. Moreover he asks, "What shoulders and what art,/ Could twist the sinews of thy heart? " (9-10). He’s reflecting on what wisdom and creativity the Almighty must possess to create such and intricate organ. Blake uses numerous amounts of questions to make a point of what type of “immortal being” can create an animal such as the tiger. Figuratively using nature's objects, Blake ponders heaven's viewpoint when he speaks of stars "crying" and "throwing down their spears" (17-18).
Throughout the scriptures, stars represent angels--both good and evil. Just before the fall of Lucifer, it is believed that Lucifer wanted to have more power and praise than God Himself. Isaiah 14:13 states that Lucifer said, "I will ascend into heaven, / I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. " With part of the angels on his side, he began a revolt in heaven. It is believed that Lucifer lost and the angels who rebelled with him became fallen angels, too. Although this is unclear, Blake could possibly be picturing the end of this tragic war when the angels threw down their weapons.
While the series of questions in the first four stanzas explore the nature of the tyger’s creator, the fifth stanza, changes the direction and asks a powerful, almost heretical question. Blake asks, "Did [God] smile his work to see? / Did he who made the Lamb make thee? " (19-20). Blake is questioning if tigers and lambs were made by the same Creator. Literally, the tiger is an aggressive predator that has no sympathy for its victims and the lamb is a very passive animal that does no harm to other creatures. The "Lamb" represents Christ, the Messiah, the Lamb of God, who was sacrificed on a cross for the sins of mankind.
William Blake, in his use of poetic devices, clearly shows his curiosity of the origin of the devil, metaphorically juxtaposed as a tiger. The poem completes a cycle of questioning the creator of the tyger, discussing how it could have been created, and then returns to questioning the creator again. Throughout the poem Blake asks, “If God is such a benevolent, loving, caring God, why would He make such a horrifying and wicked being who causes so much harm in our world? ” This question, however, is left unanswered therefore Blake did not come up with a definitive answer.