Date of Award

Spring 1974

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Pick, John

Second Advisor

Boyle, Robert

Third Advisor

Hamm, Victor

Abstract

The subtitle of this study is chosen with precise intent, for the aim of the dissertation is to provide a more comprehensive view of Blake's mysterious and powerful poem than any of Blake's critics have thus far put forth. In broadest terms, critics of "The Tyger" fall into two large but quite distinct camps. The first group tends to interpret the poem by focusing on the central image of the tyger itself. Is the tyger good, they ask, or evil? What is the nature of its creator? Decendent on the answers they put forth to these questions, they go on to suggest ways in which "The Tyger" might relate to Blake's mythological system. The second, and considerably smaller group of critics, view the poem strictly as one of the Songs of Experience. This group usually distinguishes between the speaker of the poem and Blake himself, and seed both the image of the tyger and the poem's persona as being products of the limited world of experience. That this most well known poem of Blake's should be for so long interpreted in one of these two fashions is unfortunate, for it strengthens the implication already too strong in circles of Blake scholarship that there are really two Blakes: Blake the lyricist of such pellucid poems as Songs of Innocence, and the other more eccentric and perhaps half mad poet of semi-demonic genius that produced such works as Milton and Jerusalem. Pushed to its logical extreme, such a mistaken view of Blake would compromise the aesthetic integrity of his work for fear of the inability of his poetic audience to respond to good poetry...

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