Theme and Analysis of the poem The Tyger by William Blake

The Tyger is a song of experience. Blake’s child sings here of his newly acquired experience. There is a transition of his knowledge from the little, timid lamb to the large, ferocious tiger. The lamb is known and friendly to him. He finds it one with himself and identifies the Creator with his mild mate lamb and him. But he confronts a quite contrary creature in the tiger-stoutly structured, awful and violent. This is a new experience and leads him to speculate, in his childlike manner, what is awful and wonderful in this creature and the process of its majestic creation.

The theme of The Tyger relates to this creation of the tiger, no doubt from the viewpoint of the little, innocent child. To this child, the tiger is all strange, formidable and fearful. He looks, with awe and wonder, at its fearful symmetry and brightly burning eyes. He feels excited, almost thrilled, to fancy how the great creator could frame its heavy structure and put life into this element of terror.

The child fancies the creator’s dread hand and dread feet, and great strength and great skill, in the creation of the tiger. Nothing intricate or mystical is apparent here. The whole view is of his little knowledge of the world around him. So he fancies the supposed instruments, used by the Mighty Maker, in the creation of the tiger-the hammer, the chain, the furnace, and the anvil-and His ‘dread grasp to clasp the terror of the tiger’. These are all the sights, familiar to the child in an ironsmith’s shop.

In fact, in the child’s simple perception and pure vision, the tiger’s Creator is potent enough to handle skilfully hard and intricate tools and to hold firmly, too, the force and terror in that fierce creature. This potency of creativity, that is divine, forms a part of the theme. Unknowingly and innocently, the child speaks of the creation, mighty and majestic, in which God’s power is manifested.

But the more significant part of the theme is not the creation of the tiger, but rather the propriety of His creation. In the last two lines of the penultimate stanza, the child raises, no doubt like a child, two vital questions-

Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

The first question doubts about the Creator’s actual reaction to the creation, that is the tiger. Was He happy over that? The child is struck with awe and admiration at the new creation. His concept of the Creator, as meek and mild (in The Lamb), is hardly consistent with the fierce and violent nature of the tiger, His other creation. This leads to the second question. How could two entirely contrary creatures be created by the same God? The lamb and the tiger belong to two opposite aspects, yet they are the creatures from the same eternal source.

The child raises the questions that naturally haunt his innocent mind. He seeks no answer, does not answer, for the answer belongs to the sphere of adult wisdom. The propriety of the creation of the fierce tiger, after the timid lamb, is not free from controversy, and the Creator’s basic objective may well be doubted. Yet, the answer is there, no doubt deep and meaningful. Variety indicates immensity in creation. Only an inviolable power could create, with the same ease, two such contrasted creatures- the lamb and the tiger. The theme of the poem is starkly struck here.