The English Romantic period (1785-1832) was a complex movement that expressed dissatisfaction with the current society, explored the human condition, celebrated nature, and greatly encouraged experimentation and creativity in the arts. This period emphasized emotions over thoughts and reason and highly valued individualism. Romantic writers of the age were “aware of a pervasive intellectual and imaginative climate, which some called ‘the spirit of the age.’ This spirit was linked to both the politics of the French Revolution and religious apocalypticism” (“The Romantic Period”).
Because the era before Romanticism weakened the religious stronghold on society, Romantics were not very concerned with piety, but rather were interested in experimentation with religion in an esthetical manner. Many artists, writers and visual artists alike, used religious imagery and themes in their works, but did not necessarily consider their works to have Christian or religious connotations. As with the era before it, people of the Romantic period expressed doubt in a higher deity. They questioned the Church’s teachings and sought more scientific answers to the workings of the world (Brians).
The Romantics “traversed the dark side of existence. They were intrigued with the grotesque, the malignant, the horrific, and the fearful.” They believed life could not be beautiful without death because “all beauty is fleeting and eventually withers away” (Romanticism: Imagining Freedom). It is from this approach that the majority of English Romantic poet, William Blake’s works of art stem. “The Tyger,” one of English Romantic poet William Blake’s most famous as most debated poems, can be interpreted in various ways, but greatly relates to this doubt in what the masses previously thought of God. His painting The Ghost of a Flea can be interpreted in a similar manner.
Blake, regarded as one of the six best English Romantic poets, was an eccentric nonconformist who “privileged imagination over reason in the creation of both his poetry and artworks, asserting that ideal forms should be constructed not from observations of nature but from inner visions” (“William Blake”). Blake often claimed to have “visions” which were the inspirations for many of his creations. He “believed himself to be in immediate contact with ‘spirits’ who revealed to him his visions and inspired his poems” (Blunt 22). These vivid spirits, often in the form of angels or religious imagery, visited him and instructed him to create his works.
Like many artists during his time, Blake rejected mainstream religious beliefs, namely the Church. He instead adopted his own version of Christianity to follow and live by. Many of his works contain religious connotations. One such religious work is his poem, “The Tyger,” published in his Songs of Experience collection in 1794. The imagery in the poem is strikingly beautiful, but is simultaneously dark and ominous. The focus of the poem is the questioning of the creation...