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Adrienne Rich's Aunt Jennifer's Tigers

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Adrienne Rich's Aunt Jennifer's Tigers

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Adrienne Rich's "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers" is a very structured poem. Each verse contains exactly four lines, while every second line rhymes with the previous line. "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers" portrays an image of a wife dismayed with her married life. One can interpret from this poem that Aunt Jennifer is an abused wife unable to escape her husband's brutality. The poem focuses on Aunt Jennifer's dreams and the harsh world she calls her reality. She escapes her harsh world through her stitching and needlepoint, and the tigers that she creates are everything that she is not. Rich uses comparison to convey to us the difference between Aunt Jennifer and her tigers.

The tigers Aunt Jennifer stitches and imagines are brave and they do not fear anything or anyone, "They do not fear the men beneath the tree; / They pace in sleek chivalric certainty" (Lines 3-4). Aunt Jennifer is far different from these animals that she creates. She is somewhat a nervous and frightened woman; we can get this from line 5, "Aunt Jennifer's fingers fluttering through her wool". This line portrays Aunt Jennifer's character as insecure. The contrast that Rich uses with Aunt Jennifer and her tigers portrays the dream that Aunt Jennifer seeks, however can never obtain.

Lines 7-8, "The massive weight of Uncle's wedding band / Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer's hand", clearly portrays the hardship she must endure and the weight of the marriage. She is trapped in this marriage with nowhere to go. Her only escape being "Aunt Jennifer's tigers prance across a screen" (Line 1). The most saddening lines in the poem are, "While Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie / Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by" (Lines 9-10). From these lines, one can interpret that Aunt Jennifer will still have on the ring that tainted her life. She will still be owned and dominated even after she is long gone.

Numerous literary devices are used throughout this poem, for example, alliteration, imagery,...