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Aunt Jennifer Tigers by Adrienne Rich

Essay by   •  January 17, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,228 Words (5 Pages)  •  3,285 Views

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In the poem "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers," Adrienne Rich expresses the life of Aunt Jennifer where she wishes be artistic and make her own creations because she is trapped in an abusive marriage. Her husband was very controlling and had her in a state of mental confinement. She was living in constant terror which portrayed her inner feelings to create her artwork. The only way for Aunt Jennifer to escape the small-minded world she lives in, is to create artwork which will live on after her death. She expresses her pain through art by creating pictures of tigers. In her eyes, tigers are not afraid of anything because they are strong, dominant creatures and that is how Aunt Jennifer would like to live. She is afraid of her abusive husband and she wants to have the strength of a tiger so she won't be afraid anymore. The tigers are represented as what women could be if they were not held back by their abusers. Rich used the word "prance" to describe the way women should feel as being self-confident and cheerful. Aunt Jennifer's tigers are a symbol of how strong she would like to become so she will never have to live in fear and have her freedom after her death.

After reading this poem, it truly makes people value their freedom. Some women actually do depend on men and that's not always the best solution for women. Women shouldn't have to depend on men for everything; women need to realize how to live for themselves and not for only their significant other. Adrienne Rich captures Aunt Jennifer's viewpoint and how she feels about her life. She is frightened to actually stand up to her husband and confront her feelings towards him. The whole time they were married, she never faced her fears.

The speaker in this poem is Adrienne Rich, which is also the niece of Aunt Jennifer. She is the one who explains the poem as it is, her uncle used to abuse her aunt and in the long run she ended up dying but her the artwork of her tigers is still present. The type of person Adrienne Rich is seems to be a caring person because she wrote a poem based on her aunt who was abused by her uncle. The way the tone of the poem is soft and sad at the same thing. By reading it out loud I could feel how sad Rich was when writing this poem. She uses the word "terrified" more than once in her poem to indicate how Aunt Jennifer was afraid and unconfident she really was. Rich described very well how her aunt was treated poorly and there wasn't anything to be done about it.

In the first stanza, Aunt Jennifer's character is recognized along with her art that reveal her aspiration. The tapestry of which she created the idea of tigers is very symbolic of how she wants her life to be. She wants to be fearless, assertive and powerful like the tiger prancing and be able to have her freedom. The tiger's prancing is depicted as being confident, self-assured and happy, which is everything that Aunt Jennifer is not. The use of colors implies that Aunt Jennifer's tigers enjoy a sense of freedom much greater than hers. The "bright topaz" is indicated as the sun and the strong energy which is similar to the idea of rebirth.

In the second stanza, Aunt Jennifer's present condition is depicted. Her fingers are "fluttering through her wool" meaning that there is both physical and mental weakness. "The massive weight of Uncle's wedding band/Sits Heavily upon Aunt Jennifer's hand" shows us that the responsibilities she has in her marriage makes her unable to realize that she can be an independent woman and not have to depend on her significant other. She is able to escape her difficult situation



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