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What are the literal and figurative meanings of the poem "The Tyger"?Please explain...

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sj-14 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted August 22, 2011 at 3:32 AM via web

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What are the literal and figurative meanings of the poem "The Tyger"?

Please explain thoroughly.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 22, 2011 at 9:10 AM (Answer #1)

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William Blake, in the poem "The Tyger", uses both literal and figurative meanings to define the message he wishes to give to readers.

Literal meanings are very hard. Many times one might think that a poem has a definitive literal meaning that all readers can conclude. This is not the fact. Given that most poetry is subjective, any reader of the poem could come up with a meaning that they believe to be literal. All that is needed to support an interpretation of a poem is support regarding the meaning.

This being said, the literal meaning of the poem, for me, is heavily embedded within the figurative meaning of the poem given the two blend together: the literal meaning is defined by the figurative meaning.

Therefore, the meaning of the poem lies in the fact Blake is questioning the creation of the tiger based solely upon the fact that he finds it hard to believe that the same hand (God's hand) created the lamb. What the poem does is set up the paradox for readers: can evil (as depicted by the references to "fire" and "dread") come from good?

What the poem does is allow mankind to question the relation between good and evil. Is all that is created from good 'good'? Or, can something created from good inherently be evil? This is the question Blake wishes to leave his readers with.

This being said, allow at alternative interpretation: God granted free will as seen in the garden of Eden and Eve's taking from the Tree of Knowledge. Free will allows people, and animals, to choose their destiny through this free will. So, does an animal function in the same way as man in regards to how it lives its life? Or, is the tiger simply misunderstood given the stereotype placed upon the creature by man?

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