Here in this article, you can analyze and read the summary of the class 12 poem: Aunt Jennifer’s Tiger.
About the Poet:
Name of the poet: Adrienne Rich (1929-2012)
Adrienne Rich was an American poet, essayist, and feminist. she is widely known for her contributions to the women’s movement as a poet and theorist.
other works: Diving into the wreck(her work generally reflects that she was against racism)
To know more about Adrienne Rich: Click here
What is the Theme of the poem Aunt Jennifer’s Tiger:
The constraints of married life a woman experiences in patriarchal societies.
The poet conveys the hidden feelings of a woman – Aunt Jennifer. The aunt makes an embroidery pattern depicting bold and energetic tigers that move freely in the forest. She lives a life under the dominance of her husband. she is always afraid of him and society. These independent and audacious tiger patterns reflect her inner desire to live a free and fearless life. The tigers are graceful and bright. Aunt Jennifer’s fingers tremble while embroidering. She is old but is still afraid of her Husband.
She doesn’t enjoy the freedom to do whatever she wants. Since the day of their marriage she finds herself trapped, the wedding ring on her hand is a constant reminder that she belongs to her husband, the burden of marriage has worn her down, She will not be free before her death. Even after her death, the ring will remain in her hand, and she will still be under the control of her demanding husband. On the other hand, the tigers she embroiders will roam free forever. Her desire for freedom and courage will live on through your tigers.
Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance across a screen,
Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
They do not fear the men beneath the tree;
They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.
prance – move with high springy steps.
topaz – a precious stone, typically colorless, yellow, or pale blue
denizens – a person, animal, or plant that lives or is found in a particular place
sleek – smooth and glossy.
chivalric – related to chivalry (knights, noblemen, and horsemen collectively)
Explanation of stanza 1:
- The poet talks about a lady referred to as Aunt Jennifer .
- She is doing embroidery on a cloth , She is making a pattern that resembles with a tiger .
- The tiger she made is as bright as shining topaz , jumping and pacing around in the dense forest fearlessly .
- The tiger exhibits chivalry which is a symbol of bravery and audacity.
The poet is talking about a lady named Jennifer. She says that Aunt Jennifer is doing embroidery on a piece of fabric. She has designed it with bright and shining tigers who are pacing fearlessly within a dense forest. She has defined their splendor with the aid of comparing them with a valuable yellow stone called topaz. She says that they seem blazing yellow. They are fearless and they’re now no longer tormented by the presence of men. She contrasts herself with the chivalrous tigers as they are brave and courageous creatures and she on the other hand is scared of her husband and the patriarchal society.
Aunt Jennifer’s fingers fluttering through her wool
Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.
The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band
Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand.
flutter – fly unsteadily or hover by flapping the wings quickly and lightly
ivory – a hard white-creamy substance used for making ornaments
wedding band – here, ring
Explanation of stanza 2:
- Aunt jennifer’s fingers were quivering(shaking) as she was completing the embroidery peice
- at this stage of life , she finds it hard even to pull a needle which tells the readers how tired she is from all the turmiol.
- here , the wedding band refers to a ring which her husband gave it to her .
- she finds the ring heavy too , ring signifies that she is entrapped in this social construct of marriage made up by society .
Aunt Jennifer unlike the brave tigers is scared of her husband, her fear is portrayed in the first line of the stanza. She finds herself in a state of complete captivity. She is tired of doing all the household chores that apparently a woman is meant to do in her life after marriage. Now she finds it hard to work with a small needle. she considers the ring her husband gave her on the wedding day as a heavy burden. The ring is a way of comparing her life entrapped in a vicious circle of marriage.
When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie
Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.
The tigers in the panel that she made
Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.
ordeal – a very unpleasant and prolonged experience.
Explanation of stanza 3:
- She believes that one day she will die drowned in fear of her husband and the patriarchal society .
- Even after her death , she will bear the weight of the wedding ring.
- she will not be relieved by the dominance of her husband .
- She embedded her freedom in the tigers who will roam and jump around without any fear
Aunt Jennifer has accepted her fate now and has lost hope of achieving the freedom she desired. The weight of the heavy ring will chase her to her grave. Even after death, she will be mastered by her dominant husband. The tigers she made depict the kind of life she wanted, not bound in any miserable situation. While she will lie in her grave, the tigers she made will roam around fearlessly anywhere they want.
Literary devices used:
metaphor: tigers are compared to bright and shining topaz
alliteration: fingers fluttering (stanza 2), prancing proud (stanza 3)
rhyming scheme: aabb
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