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Aunt Jennifer's Tigers Analysis

Author: poem of Adrienne Rich Type: poem Views: 35

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Aunt Jennifer's tigers prance across a screen,

Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.

They do not fear the men beneath the tree;

They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.

Aunt Jennifer's fingers fluttering through her wool

Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.

The massive weight of Uncle's wedding band

Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer's hand.

When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie

Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.

The tigers in the panel that she made

Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.  


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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This is from an analysis I did for my AP Lit. class:
\"The poem portrays a central character, Aunt Jennifer, as a meek, passive woman, suffocated by her marriage and the criterion she must meet to please society. She experiences dissonance between the part of her that is used to being told how she can live and the part of her that wants to be free of these societal restraints. The poem is narrated by a relative of Aunt Jennifer who recognizes her internal conflict and takes a pitying tone in her portrayal. Aunt Jennifer’s longing for escape is portrayed by her marvelous tapestry, depicting “topaz” tigers, a symbol of the strength and freedom which she can only dream of possessing. Visual imagery is used to describe the confident tigers in their colorful world, which is then contrasted with Jennifer’s reality, which is shown through kinesthetic imagery describing her manual work and the weight of her marriage on her spirit. The tone shifts from spellbound in the first stanza to a dreary, embittered one in the second. Diction contributes to the differing natures of the stanzas as well; light-hearted words such as “pranced” and “bright” that are used in the first stanza provide a stark contrast to the words “heavy” and “hard” which are found in the second stanza. In the final stanza, Aunt Jennifer is contrasted again with her tigers, this time posthumously. Even after her death, Aunt Jennifer is depicted as a scared little woman. The author uses words like “terrified” and “mastered” to depict her submissive nature. This is directly contrasted with her panel, which will “go on” as a symbol of independence and fortitude. “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” is about the suppressive nature of marriage and society’s expectations of women, especially married ones, and reveals that the stifling environment they create proves detrimental and sometimes traumatizing.\"
-Miranda Burke

| Posted on 2012-02-09 | by a guest

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Aunt Jennifer uses her art to escape from the societal contracts she is
bound to. She creates these beautiful, strong tigers who are free kings and
queens of the forest. They make their own decisions. The tigers do not fear
men in the way that she does and do not cower in the face of pressure;
their world is wild and free where hers is controlled.
This poem refers to an early time. It is not common nowadays to create
screens made of wool and to use an ivory needle to do so. This leads me to
think that her marriage with the uncle was arranged or she was forced into
it for familial or societal reasons.
Her wedding ring weighs her down until death because it represents her lack
of freedom. The phrase \"terrified hands\" makes me think that her marriage
was abusive or she was incredibly timid or fragile. Even in death, it seems
she has not found freedom, but the tigers will keep representing the
strength she wished she had.
Writer Eric Eaton

| Posted on 2012-01-29 | by a guest

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Thank you very much .The explanation is brilliant.
We have this poem for exams
thanks again

| Posted on 2010-12-14 | by a guest

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Adrienne Rich\'s \"Aunt Jennifer\'s Tigers\", depicts a woman trapped within the cultural constraints and responsibilities of married life.
In the first stanza, Aunt Jennifer\'s situation and character is contrasted with her artistic creation that portrays her aspiration. The tapestry on which she has knitted tigers are very symbolic of what she wants to be in life - fearless, assertive, noble and powerful like the tiger as expressed in the words \"They pace in sleek chivalric certainty\". The tigers depicted as prancing across the screen bring to mind a being that is confident, self-assured and happy; all things that Aunt Jennifer is not. The use of colours implies that Aunt Jennifer\'s tigers and their land are more vital and enjoy a sense of freedom far greater than her. Yellow (bright topaz) connotes the sun and fierce energy, while green reminds one of spring and rebirth.
In the second stanza, Aunt Jennifer\'s present state is depicted. Her fingers are \"fluttering through her wool\" showing both physical and mental weakness. She finds it difficult to pull the needle. \"The massive weight of Uncle\'s wedding band / Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer\'s hand\" reminds us that her marriage responsibilities weigh her down which makes her unable to realize her full potential as a woman in a male-dominated society. She escapes from her difficult situation through art i.e. through knitting.
The final stanza contains imagery that reflects back on the first two stanzas. The reference of the hands symbolizes Aunt Jennifer as a whole. Though her death would free her from her present miserable state, her hands will remain terrified with the wedding ring which binds her to her ordeals that took complete control of her. The only sign of her freedom from her present life is the art work which she escapes into by depicting the prancing, proud and unafraid tigers which is what she really wants to be and which she attains through her imagination..

| Posted on 2010-12-06 | by a guest

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