The Aunt Jennifer's Tigers

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Keley Jackson

Floyd

ENG 131

11 November 2012

Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers

This poem portrays a main character, Aunt Jennifer, as a humble docile woman; smothered by her marriage and the norms she feels she must meet to please society. Adrienne Rich cleverly names the poem “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” because of the importance of the role the tigers play in her life. With a husband who dominates her in all respects, she must find her own freedom in her life by knitting in her free time. Aunt Jennifer, a woman on the backside of her life, is slaved to her husband’s controlling ways and rules. To stay sane, aunt Jennifer must find her own way to deal with her unhappy submissive life, by sewing extravagant and observable tigers. She does this to portray what she wishes her life could be, which is the ability to live without fear and with freedom. In the first stanza the speaker opens the poem up with imagery that represent tigers literally prancing with freedom, the one thing Aunt Jennifer wishes she could have. “ Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance across a screen/ Bright topaz denizens of a world of green (1-2) This image immediately brings the thought of a scene of happiness and independence. A bright topaz denizen of a world of green represents the color of nature, while it is associated with joy, and liveliness. Aunt Jennifer is obviously in pursuit for liberty and vivacity. She cannot experience these wonderful things at home so she escapes to her sewing. Conversely, the tigers are everything Aunt Jennifer wishes she could be. These tigers do not allow anything or anyone to hinder their assurance in the world, as they respectively do what they please. “They do not fear the men beneath the tree/ they pace in sleek chivalric certainty”(3-4) the tigers to Aunt Jennifer are similar to a kid looking up to a superhero who represents everything he wishes he could be. In the second stanza of the poem, Aunt Jennifer makes it very apparent that she is...
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