Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Class 12 - English - Aunt Jennifer's Tiger (Q and A)

Aunt Jennifer's Tiger


Class 12 - English - Aunt Jennifer's Tiger (Q and A)

-By Adrienne Rich



Memory Card
Introduction


  • 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.
  • She escapes her harsh world through her stitching and needlepoint, and the tigers that she creates are everything that she is not.
  • Rich uses comparison to convey to us the difference between Aunt Jennifer and her tigers.
  • Women who are dominated by their husbands live their lives in a state of mental confinement.
  • The poet Adrienne Rich expresses the life Aunt Jennifer wishes to lead through artistic creations as she is trapped in an abusive marriage.
  • Her tapestries portray her inner feelings conveying the constant terror she's living in.
  • The only way for Aunt Jennifer to escape the expectations of her husband is to live on, after death, through her artwork.
  • 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.



Stanza 1
   
   The first stanza serves to explain what the tigers represent.

  • Rich begins her poem with a beautiful picture, setting the scene for the dream world of Aunt Jennifer.
  • We see that Aunt Jennifer has ownership over the tigers in some way.
  • They are free to "prance" and run across the screen.
  • The tigers are bright like "topaz" and they inhabit a world that is green.
  • Aunt Jennifer's tigers do not fear men.
  • They conduct themselves in a heroic, manly fashion.
  • The tigers that Aunt Jennifer owns are confident and certain of who they are and what they want.



Stanza 2
   The second stanza explains who Aunt Jennifer is.

  • Aunt Jennifer is described to be working with a piece of wool.
  • She is doing needlepoint to a panel that will be placed in a pillow, quilt, or screen of some kind for the home.
  • Her fingers are fluttering to create the beautiful image of the tigers.
  • Aunt Jennifer is expressing herself through the creation of her tigers.
  • She wants to be confident and fearless.
  • However, she finds it difficult to create those tigers and express those feelings.
  • Those feelings are repressed by the weight of marriage, gender roles, and a dominating society.
  • "Uncle's wedding band" represents a particular society in which she lives.
  • This weight is not something she enjoys as the band is described to sit "heavily" on her hand and keeps her from the only sense of expression she has, her needlepoint.




Stanza 3
The last stanza of the poem gives us a surprisingly truthful look at the reality and end of Aunt Jennifer and women in her position all over the world.

  • Aunt Jennifer never does win.
  • Even in death, she would be conformed to the patriarchal society in which she lives.
  • The ring around her finger symbolizes the weight she must bear dead or alive.
  • Just as she created and controlled her needlework, society and gender roles created and controlled her.
  • In the last two lines Rich is simply stating that Aunt Jennifer was too late.
  • She tried to express herself and to overcome the oppression that she probably could not even explain, but she only knew how to do it through masculine images.
  • Those images were all she had ever known.
  • Aunt Jennifer never got to see women standing strong and proud because they were simply women.
  • The reason her tigers went "on prancing and proud and unafraid" was because the tigers represented all the things masculine and therefore, had nothing to fear.




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.

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