What does the speaker mean by "fearful symmetry" in "The Tyger"?  

The term "fearful symmetry" in "The Tyger" refers to the paradox that the Tyger is both beautiful and frightening, using its beauty, balance, and grace to act as a ruthless predator. Why are beauty and evil joined in this creature to burn "bright?" This poem, unlike its companion piece, "The Lamb," raises questions about the nature of God that it does not answer.

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In the term "fearful symmetry," Blake refers to the problem of aesthetics or beauty. The Tyger is a beautiful animal. It has bright eyes, and it "burns bright" with intense energy. It has been carefully forged by an unknown craftsman in what is described as a blacksmith's shop. The creature is forged and "twisted" out of strong ingredients, such as molten iron and a mighty hammer.

Yet the beautiful Tyger is also "fearful" because it is a ruthless predator who uses its "symmetry"—it grace and balance and beauty—to ruthlessly destroy and devour other creatures. Why is this, the speaker wonders? Why is beauty (symmetry) used in an evil (fearful, frightening) way?

"Fearful symmetry" also harkens back to the companion poem to this one in Songs of Innocence , "The Lamb." What is the symmetry between a lovely, white, pure, innocent creature like a lamb, the symbol of Christ, who harms no one, and the lovely, lean, rippling, but fiercely predatory Tyger? Why at heart is there a seeming...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 828 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 13, 2021
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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on September 19, 2019