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The Significance Of Mythological Allusions To Vulcan And Hephaestus In William Blake's "The Tyger."

1007 words - 4 pages

William Blake wrote The Tyger as a counterpart to The Lamb. In its simplest interpretation, it may seem that The Tyger represents the bad in mankind, and The Lamb represents the good. The speaker asks the tiger, "What immortal hand or eye, could frame thy fearful symmetry?" (4) The Tyger is majestic, but also dangerous and ferocious. However, Blake shows that the tiger is scary and evil sometimes, but maybe people just can't understand the reason it was created. The tiger, like all living things, has a purpose. Blake supports this idea throughout the poem. He uses a couple of mythological allusions which, if understood, make this poem much more complex and meaningful. An allusion is made to Prometheus and the Greek god Hephaestus, who is equivalent to the Roman god Vulcan. Blake successfully incorporates these allusions to present all aspects of the tiger. He acknowledges the tiger's faults, but also includes its strengths. This makes a very fair and bold argument.The speaker asks "What the hand, dare seize the fire?" (8). This is an allusion to when Prometheus stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals. The gift of fire allowed humans to be productive and inventive. By placing this idea in The Tyger, Blake suggests that it is this darker side of humans which allowed them to progress so much in history. By looking even closer at Prometheus, many other insights can be given into Blake's reasoning behind this poem. Prometheus was punished by Zeus for giving humans fire. Zeus had Hephaestus, who is mentioned later in The Tyger, shackle Prometheus to the side of a crag. There he was doomed to spend eternity while being attacked by an eagle every day. Prometheus was fated to be punished by his own kind, the other gods. This is obviously also true to humans. Because of the evil that lurks in the hearts of men, we have always, and will probably continue to torture and abuse other humans.Zeus was still angry with Prometheus, so he decided to undo the good that Prometheus had done for mankind. Zeus did this by creating Pandora, whose body was created by Hephaestus. She contained hate, mistrust, disease, and other things unknown to the innocent humans. Pandora was given to Prometheus's brother, and when this gift was 'opened' all the evil things inside were released to the world. This story enhances the idea of the tiger being horrid and ferocious as you read The Tyger.Blake uses this allusion to Prometheus to unlock several ideas about the tiger. Humans often question why God put harmful things in this world, and although it remains unanswered, Blake brings the question into the open for consideration. Blake also illustrated that "the tiger" and other things associated with the dark side of human nature, has allowed humans to be prosperous. Lastly, the poet still keeps the reader aware of the truly harmful side of the...

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