Aunt Jennifer's Tiger
-By Adrienne Rich
Q1: How do denizens' and 'chivarlic' add to our understanding of the tiger's attitudes?
Answer: A tiger is an animal who grows elegantly in the green forest and is the denizen of woods. They prance majestically and their chivarlic pace shows their power and fearless attitude towards mankind. They are full of energy and live dominantly in their natural environment.
Q2: Why do you think Aunt Jennifer's hands are 'fluttering through her wool' in the second stanza? Why is she finding the needle so hard to pull?
Answer: Her fingers are fluttering while she was stitching patters into a tapestry as she was creating the powerful and fearless images of tigers which contrasted her life. Even the ivory needle was hard to pull by her because she was suppressed by the weight of marriage, gender roles, and a dominating society.
Q3: What is suggested by the image 'massive weight of Uncle's wedding band'?
Answer: The Uncle's wedding band is the ring of Aunt's hand which symbolizes the harsh dominating marriage she was going through. The band is burden for her life which is full of obstacles and hardships. Aunt is suffering from both the mental and physical stress.
Q4: Of what or of whom is Aunt Jennifer terrified with in the third stanza?
Answer: In the third stanza, she was terrified as she has never got to see women standing strong and proud because they were simply women. The tigers she created depicted her spirit of being free and fearless, but even if she would die, the oppression of the male dominating society will not be overcome.
Q5: What are the 'ordeals' Aunt Jennifer is surrounded by, why is it significant that the poet uses the word 'ringed'? What are the meanings of the word 'ringed' in the poem?
Answer: Aunt Jennifer is surrounded by the brutal world where power is defined as masculine. A world where women's struggles are oppressed by the dominance of male society. The ring around her finger symbolizes the weight she must bear dead or alive. Even in death, she is seen to conform to the patriarchal society in which she lived. The ring also shows the hardships in her life to which she is bounded.
Q6: Why do you think Aunt Jennifer created animals that are so different from her own character? What might the poet be suggesting, through this difference?
Answer: Aunt Jennifer has created prancing tigers which depicts her inner spirits to be free and fearless. Her life is in contrast with the majestic tigers as she lives in the world which is male dominating. No freedom is given to women. Women's feelings are full of fear as they are bounded with the hardships of life. Her inner desire to be powerful is represented by her images of tigers.
Q7: Interpret the symbols found in this poem.
Answer: Many symbols are used. Tigers are used as a symbol to depict strength, chivalric and fearless characteristics. Wool symbolises Aunt's dreams, i.e, the wish to be like tigers. The wedding band shows the burdened marriage with oppression and suppression.
Q8: Do you sympathise with Aunt Jennifer? What is the attitude of the speaker towards Aunt Jennifer?
Answer: The poem portrays an image of a wife dismayed with her married life. Aunt Jennifer is an abused wife unable to escape her husband's brutality. The poem focuses on Aunt Jennifer's dreams and the harsh world she calls her reality. This is completely sympathising. Rich uses comparison to convey to us the difference between Aunt Jennifer and her tigers. Rich reveals, through the simple lines of Aunt Jennifer's Tigers, a woman's struggles with expressions, rebellion, and a society where power is defined as masculine. Rich's attitude is sympathising with her Aunt and is opposing towards male dominating society.