The Lamb and The Tyger
Literature is a written work of superior, artistic merit. A literary work can be writings that may or may not be published, on any particular subject and can also be broken down into several genres such as: short stories, poems, and dramas. The genres are composed of words and various elements of literary composition. Due to the variety if literary elements that authors can use in their work, it is possible to find a comparison and contrast between multiple literary pieces. Similarities and differences can be seen in William Blake’s The Lamb and The Tyger through imagery, allusion, and the theme of creation.
Similarities and differences on the element of imagery can be seen within both of Blake’s poems. Imagery is any sensory detail in a work that evokes a feeling. Both poems use images within nature to call to mind to the idea that humankind can be split into completely different worlds. In The Lamb, the images created implies that the concrete object lives in a world that is very nurturing and tranquil, as seen in the following quote “Gave thee life & bid thee feed / By the stream & o’er the mead” (3-4). On the other hand, in The Tyger, the images used create an environment that is a dark, haunting, fiery violent world, as seen in the lines “Tyger Tyger, burning bright / In the forests of the night” (1-2). Even though both poems convey different types of imagery, they both show how the world can possess a bright, innocent side or a dark evil one. Another set of imagery is seen within both literary works is the animal use and reference. When one thinks of a lamb, several connotations can be depicted from this image, such as how its appearance, it’s nice, gentle actions, and the color white which can further imply innocence. However when one think of a tiger, one may conclude that it is of a large, strong nature, lives in the jungle, maintains the theory of survival of the fittest, and is often feared. The image of the lamb evokes the feeling of serenity and purity, while the tiger evokes power and fierceness. This can further imply to the mind that the Lamb represents innocence in the world and the Tyger illustrates experience. The image of the light and Lamb suggests that it is a sacrifice for humanity to overcome evil, while the Tyger, fire, and darkness suggests potential danger. As stated by a literary critic in the article, The Tyger: Genesis & Evolution in the Poetry of William Blake, “The problem of ‘The Tyger’ is, quite simply, how to reconcile the Forgiveness of Sins (the Lamb) with the Punishment of Sins (the Tyger)” (Miner). The element of imagery in both works can be depicted as the same and different.
A universal literary element, allusion, is seen within both poems that is homologous and analogous to each other. Allusion is the implicit or indirect reference in the literary text to something outside of a text. Both poems allude to the Bible, as many Biblical references, symbols, and images are seen in both texts. In The Lamb, the Lamb symbolizes the Christianity religion and Jesus. The following quote “Gave thee life, and bid thee feed / By the stream and o’re the mead” (3-4), illustrates that God created not only the Lamb, but everything else that God loves. In reference to the text, the Lamb of God is Jesus himself. This can further suggest that God leads all of the Lambs, who are helpless in nature, as seen in the quote, “Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee / Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee” (11-12). It is through the love and grace of God that makes everything live and possess the quality of divinity in the world. The Tyger, has an allusion to the Bible as well, and has the symbolism of Satan. The quote “In what distant deeps or skies / Burnt the fire of thy eyes (5-6 ), signifies Satan involvement in creating the Tyger and that the creator possibly lives in the skies of heaven or the deep pits of hell. The Tyger poem also alludes to two great classical myths, Prometheus and Icarus. As stated by a literary critic of the poem done by North Carolina State University:
The Creator that the speaker imagines resembles Icarus and Prometheus, both of whom were bold, Icarus for his flight and Prometheus for his theft of fire from the ancient gods. The allusion to Prometheus consequently leads into the darkest and most frightening intuition Blake’s speaker has regarding the tiger’s Creator–the possibility that this Creator could be a powerful and violent demiurge. (Broadwell and Morillo)
This symbolizes that the creator of the Tyger will go above and beyond in creating the beast with daring aspiration. Both poems also allude to the Testaments of the Bible, The Lamb being the New Testament as God is kindhearted, while The Tyger is the Old Testament, since God seems to be in vain. Similarities and differences are seen with the element of allusion in both poems.
Both poems are alike and unalike in regards to the theme of creation. Both poems want answers as to who the creator is. In The Tyger, the narrator does not understand or comprehend as to why a loving God would create something of fear and evil, as seen in the quote, “What immortal hand or eye / Could frame thy fearful symmetry” (3-4). The speaker is in a state of awe when they come to the realization that God is has the artistic ability and strength to make a powerful creature. This power in turn causes the speaker to respect and fear of God. As seen in an article done by the University of Chapel Hill, “This example presented demonstrates Blake’s beliefs of creation, and distrust in religion. The serene tiger presented becomes a unique symbol representing Blake’s investigation of evil in this “pure” world” (Analysis and Discussion). The speaker ponders on the thought of God’s motives and methods. In The Lamb, the speaker makes an attempt into finding out who made the precious Lamb, seen the following line “Little Lamb, who made thee” (1). Soon, the speaker question is answered and realizes that the same being who created them is also the creator of the Lamb. This allowed the speaker to have a state of benevolence to God and established a relationship with him. As seen in a poem criticism in reference to the God and Lamb relationship:
Every event has sacramental implications because all human relationships are sacramental re-enactments of man’s relation to God and God’s to man. Every shepherd is a lamb and every lamb a shepherd. These are not merely symbols, they are the thing itself; they partake of the divinity they represent. (Smith)
Even though both poems ask the same question, they approach the question differently, and it is only in The Lamb the narrator gets an answer, as the speaker is left hanging in The Tyger. Both literary works work together in order to figuring out if the same creator who made the Lamb is also the one who made the Tyger as well. Blake uses animals to address the creator’s role in nature, as one is fearsome while the other is innocent. Comparing and contrasting the theme of creation is seen in the both works.
Imagery, allusion, and theme are the literary elements seen in both poems that can be compared and contrasted. Despite several differences among the poems, they both have a same amount of similarities also, which helps in understanding its purpose. Even though both poems were written within several years of each other, Blake was able to execute a proposition by allowing both poems to reference one another. The poems prove that the world is of a balance between good and evil.