Aunt Jennifer's Tigers by Adrienne Rich and Patterns by Amy Lowell: Representation of Women

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How do female poets use their voice to contest patriarchal society’s inferior representation of women? Women can be seen as victims in a patriarchal society as they are often forced to conform to the restricting roles of their gender. It is through poetry that female poets are allowed to contest patriarchal society’s inferior representation of women as simply being objects; constructions based on habitual ways of thinking as a result of the cultural world in which members of a society inhabit. Patterns, a poem by Amy Lowell reflects on a woman as an individual in society and her strength and ability to escape from her world of oppression through her dreams. Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers, a poem written by Adrienne Rich depicts a woman who is constrained and trapped within her marriage. In a patriarchal society, society’s expectations confine women because they have to live up to an image that their society wants. Amy Lowell’s distinguished family and high education compared to other women of her time greatly influenced her strong feminist views. Lowell’s Patterns written in 1915, represents the ideas and values of her society and her confinement in the restricting expectations. The motif of the “stiff brocaded gown” with the fashionable “whalebone and brocade” refers to the painful corsets and stiff fabrics that women were expected to wear, and symbolises the confining nature of society. Her lack of protest suggests she is willing to endure the pain in order to achieve a feminine figure, in order to be accepted in society. The repetition of the woman walking “up and down” on the “patterned garden paths” represents society’s predetermined path, which restrict the lives of women. Adrienne Rich, as an active feminist, took an active role in political issues of sexual equality. This is reflected in Rich’s poem Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers, written in 1951, when the mindset of her society was still restrictive towards women. Aunt Jennifer is portrayed as a woman conforming to...
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