Aunt Jennifers Tiger Essay
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Aunt Jennifer’s tigers is a poem by Adrienne Rich illustrating her feminist concerns. In the male dominant world, a women of her time was only supposed to be a dutiful homemaker. This poem through the world of Aunty Jennifer, tells us about her inner desire to free herself from the clutches of abusive marriage and patriarchal society. Poem Summary The first stanza opens with Aunt Jennifer’s visual tapestry of tigers who are fearless of their environment. “Bright topaz denizens of a world of green” – evoke an image that these regal tigers are unafraid of other beings in the jungle.
Bright here signifies their powerful and radiant persona. There is a sense of certainty and confidence in the way these tigers move as can be seen in the line – “They pace in sleek chivalric certainty”. In the second stanza, the reality of Aunt Jennifer is revealed as she is feeble, weak and enslaved, very much the opposite of the tigers she was knitting. Her physical and mental trauma is depicted in the line – “find even the ivory needle hard to pull”.
Even though a wedding ring doesn’t weigh much, “the massive weight of uncle’s wedding band, sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand” signifies the amount of dominance her husband exercised over her. This also means that her inner free spirit has been jailed by the patriarchal society. The last stanza starts on a creepy note about Aunt Jennifer’s death. Even her death couldn’t free her from the ordeals she went through which can be seen in “When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by”.
While driving from her parent’s home to Cochin, she notices her mother sitting beside her dozing, her face pale like a dead body and her thoughts far away. This reminds her painfully that her mother is old and could pass away leaving her alone.
Putting that thought aside she looked out at the young trees speeding by and children running out of their homes happily to play. These remind her probably of youth and life, her own younger days and her mother when she was young.
But after the security check at the airport, looking back at her mother standing a few yards away, she finds her looking pale like the winter moon. She feels that familiar pain and childhood fear of the thought of losing her mother and of being lonely just as she had been when she was young because she was different from other children. She could only keep smiling and tell her ‘see you soon’ knowing full well that she might not see her.