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Composed in three carefully rhymed stanzas, the poem can firstly seem an homage to the speakers skills in stitching a panel with tigers. However, a detailed reading reveals images and symbols that suggest a relation of oppression concerning Aunt Jennif

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Introduction

Composed in three carefully rhymed stanzas, the poem can firstly seem an homage to the speaker's skills in stitching a panel with tigers. However, a detailed reading reveals images and symbols that suggest a relation of oppression concerning Aunt Jennifer and her husband. The tigers of Aunt Jennifer's stitchings are representative of her free spirit, how she pines for freedom from her burdensome husband. The "bright topaz denizens of green" evokes the mental image of majestic tigers not bound by the whims of another being. They do not "fear the men below the tree," something that Aunt Jennifer cannot do in her miserable reality because of her oppressor's looming presence. ...read more.

Middle

It is worth noting that this idea is ironically weaved with the use of a craft obedient to traditional patterns of poetry. Such formal structure can be read as a similar to Aunt Jennifer's predicament of household confinement. The tigers in this poem are also representative of Aunt Jennifer's quiet pride despite her adversity, her "chivalric certainty" of her inner spirit remaining pure, despite being shackled by her husband. This line also evokes the sense that Aunt Jennifer's heart will never be bound by the chains of masculinity. Yet this road is certainly not easy for Aunt Jennifer to preside in, and certainly difficult for her to preserve her inner spirit. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the last stanza, suddenly the speaker foresees Aunt Jennifer's death, however with no significant emotional change in the character's mood. Jennifer's death seems only to confirm the paralysis of her life. It evokes the sense of destabilisation as her rebellion and repression meet in the fearless tigers of her dreams and the lifeless aunt of reality. Her remaining art, however, concedes her a sense of immortality and a freedom from the dominance she experienced while married. The tigers spawned from her "terrified hands" continue to dance on long after she has faded, and continue to dance in the face of those who had enslaved her. For presenting art as an alternative to perpetuate women historically and as a medium for women's liberation, "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers" is considered one of the first feminist poems written by Adrienne Rich. ...read more.

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