Abstract: The tiger in William Blake’s poem The Tyger stands for the overwhelming revolutionary forces during the 18th with the rise of the French Revolution and the awakening of people’s consciousness to seek freedom against feudalism.
Key words: The Tyger; William Blake; French Revolution; revolutionary forces; Thomas Paine.
18th century pre-Romanism poet William Blake won his position in English Literature by two great works: The Song of Innocence and The Song of Experience. The Lamb and The Tyger can be regarded as two great poems from them respectively. People have long been curious about what exactly the symbolic meaning of that tiger is in his work. From my point of view, the tiger is a symbol of the revolutionary forces prevailed in the great French Revolution. This conclusion can be analyzed from three perspectives: the time, the poet himself and the description of the tiger in the poem.
First of all, it is imperative for us to get acquainted to the time background when Blake composed the work. The poem was written in the year 1794, 5 years after the breakout of the French Revolution which had unfolded across the England Channel (Hirsch, 13). Many romantic poets and writers viewed the French Revolution as a positive change - the common man overthrowing the yoke of the tyrannical aristocracy. Blake wrote most of his major works during the revolutionary times when there prevailed an atmosphere against oppressive institutions like the church, the monarchy and any other traditions which stifled imagination or passion. Meanwhile, in Blake’s another great poem The Lamb which was composed in 1789 before the French Revolution, he depicted a relatively harmonious world with love, joy, sympathy and above all, the goodness. Considering his dramatic change in attitude presented in these 2 poems, it is natural to come to the assumption that the French Revolution did exert an influential impact upon him, showing him the ferocious,...