William Blake Questions and Answers

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What is the tone of "The Tyger"?

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Rebecca Hope eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Tone is the author's attitude toward the subject of the work that comes through in the word choice, syntax, and structure of the piece. Tone is not always consistent within a given literary work. The tone of William Blake's "The Tyger" moves from awe, to fear, to irreverent accusation, to resigned curiosity.

In the first eleven lines of the poem, readers can sense the awe that the speaker of the poem holds for the tiger as a work of creation. The questions the speaker asks seem to imply that the Creator of the tiger is powerful and mysterious. But beginning in line 12, the tone becomes more ominous. With words like "dread" (repeated three times) and "deadly terrors," the image of the Creator becomes not-just awe-inspiring, but fear-inducing.

The fifth stanza moves into a tone bordering on the sacrilegious. It seems to question whether such a Creator could indeed be good. The idea that the stars "water'd heaven with their tears" suggests that creating the tiger was a bad idea. The next two questions: "Did he smile his work to see? Did he who made the lamb make thee?" become accusatory, even irreverent in that they question the Creator's motivation, implying it was not kindness and may differ from what people have traditionally believed.

The last stanza simply repeats the first, but now it takes on a different tone based on what has come before. Presumably, the questions cannot be answered since the round of inquiry begins anew. The heavy emotion of the previous questions seems to have subsided, and now the tone becomes curious yet resigned. Whatever the answer to these questions, the tiger exists.

The morphing tone of "The Tyger" is part of what makes it such an intriguing and captivating poem.

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pasquantonio | Student

To answer your question I''m reposting a response (same question)from accessteacher.

"This excellent poem from Blake's monumental Songs of Innocence and Experience is perhaps one of his most powerful works as it focuses on the tiger of the title as an amazing symbol of energy, power and strength. The speaker is so impressed by the tiger that the speaker, in a series of questions, asks what immortal being, divine or demonic, could have possibly fashioned such a fearsome and awe-inspiring creature, and how. It is most appropriate then to describe the tone of this poem as one of awe and wonder, as the speaker contemplates the majesty of the tiger and wonders about its true source. Consider the following stanza:

In what distant deeps or skies

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand dare seize the fire?

The relentless questioning that carries on throughout the poem combined with the admiration and also fear that the tiger obviously inspires in the speaker, and his curiosity as to the precise origin of such a beast, establishes the tone of wonder and awe that dominates the poem."