What does Blake refer to when using a hammer, chain,furnace and anvil in "Tyger"? Is this a refrence to the industrial revolution?

Expert Answers
ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Blake's poetry in general shows a fascination with the Bible and his attempt to find answers to questions like: What is the source of evil? Why does God allow evil?

In "The Tyger" the primary question Blake asks is who created evil or the devil? The Tiger represents evil as witnessed by the words "what dread hand" "what dread feet" ( lines 11,12). In the fourth stanza he uses the images of the hammer, chain, furnace and anvil to symbolize " deadly terrors" ( line 16 ).

These could be oblique references to the Industrial Revolution but I think Blake has a larger purpose in mind. In the next stanza, Blake writes:

When the stars through down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he[the tiger] smile his work to see
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

This is an obvious Biblical reference to the fall of Satan mentioned in Ezekiel 28:12-29 and Luke 4:10. So I think the images refer more to Satan and the deadly tools he possesses than simply the Industrial Revolution.

Most of the disagreement about the poem centers around the image of the tiger itself. Some say it represents a strong but volatile force that was present during the French Revolution, which was occurring when Blake published his poem. Others says the tiger simply represents the devil or evil itself. The speaker, however, simply wonders whether the origin of this force was demonic or divine.