Marriage and Aunt Jennifer

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Adrienne Rich’s poem ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’ is about how Aunt Jennifer is becoming fragile and potentially old, but Rich used the idea of Aunt Jennifer’s tapestry and the tigers as some form of release, as the poem suggests that she is tightly governed by her husband. The phrases ‘massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band’ and ‘sits heavily’. Later on in the poem, in the last stanza, Rich uses the ring as a metaphor again, ‘still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by’. By using the word ‘ringed’, he enforces the idea that Aunt Jennifer is trapped, almost binded to a certain way of life because of her marriage to that particular man.

‘A Marriage’, by Carol Rumens is a rather confusing poem at first, but the more times you read it, the more you understand the poem, and begin to develop some ideas on who is speaking and the situation they are in.

The husband in the marriage seems to be away a lot, but his wife does not seem to mind. She is the stereotypical housewife, and feels content just washing and cleaning the family home. There is a sense of self contained togetherness in the second stanza, where the persona speaks about ‘a picture of marriage as a whole small civilisation’. On the surface, it sounds like a perfect marriage. The children also seemed to be of the sensible sort; they had their teenage years and went away, and now they come back, presumably because they liked it at the home.

The marriage is described as traditional, as the couple seem to be ‘trusting the old rules’, hoping they will keep the relationship together. The husband’s ego seems to be growing however, and is putting a strain on the relationship between the husband and the persona. The persona doesn’t like how the husband treats his wife; she may potentially be his mistress and also be jealous.

Both ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’ and ‘The Marriage’ are based around a strong metaphor. Rich’s poem uses the idea of the tiger tapestry to represent Aunt Jennifer realising her full...
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