Thursday, 5 February 2015



·         Adrienne Cecile Rich
·         Born – May 16, 1929, Baltimore USA
·         Died  - March 27, 2017, 2012, Santa Cruz, California, USA
·         She was a famous American Poet, essayist and non fiction writer
·         Notable works –
1)      On lies, secrets and silence
2)      A change of world
3)      Poetry and commitment An essay
4)      Divinity into the wreck

·         Awards –
1)      National Book Award (1974)
2)      Bollingen prize (2003)
3)      Griffin poetry Prize (2010)


            ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’ is a poem which reflects a woman who is stressed because of social restraints and responsibility of an ideal wife. She is a lady who lacks confidence, strength, and the very sense fearlessness. She does not dare to go against the established and common way of life. Rather she chose to rebel by her needle work. Through the needle work she rebels against her husband’s dominance and against her subdued life. She gives tongue to her desire through the tigers that she reflected by her needle work. Her tigers actually represent what she lacks. Her tigers are brave, courageous unafraid, proud and chivalric. What she desires from her husband is a little honour, importance and value as a real wife. And she desires to bring an end to the social beliefs about women where they are treated as to be ruled by the male dominating society.


            The poem “Aunt Jennifer’s Tiger’ is written in 12 lines, 3 stanzas with 4 lines equally divided. The total poem is written in a rhyme scheme of aabb. The poem acquaints us with the poetic devices like  ‘Alliteration’, ‘Anaphora’, ‘imagery’, ‘inversion’, ‘personification’ etc.



            From the first stanza we are transported from the real world to the imaginary world of Aunt Jennifer. She reflects her pain and desires through her embroidery. Through her embroidery she unfolds her desire for freedom from her husband. She portrays what she desires to be; how she wants her life to be like one which will have the spirit to face all the oppression in life. She portrays tigers on her screen meaning the lacuna of herself i.e. the bravery and strength. They are prancing and are referred as  “bright topaz denizens of green” and these hint their limitless, free and  spirited existence. When we come across, “they do not fear the men below the tree” we realize, how Aunt Jennifer longed to be brave and free from the suppression. This even evokes her hatred towards the male dominated society. She even rings the voice of those many women who are tormented by the male domination. Her tigers in the screen are fast, smooth, brave and confident.

Poetic devices in use “

1)      Anaphora – “They ...........................
They .........................,
2)      Alliteration – “Chivalric certainty”, “the tree” etc.


            The second stanza reflects about the realistic side of Aunt Jennifer. She is busy at her work of embroidery. Her fingers are fluttering while working with her needle. Her fluttering of fingers do not suggest her being sick or weak, rather this reflects her tensed psychological state. She is feeling her fingers fluttering and heavy to pull the ivory needle. It is because of the massive weight of the ring of the uncle. The ring works as twine which limits and abounds her in social obligations and suppression and at the same time snatches away her freedom. The ivory needle connects indirectly to elephants, another species reputed for courage and not being unafraid. The words ‘massive weight’ and ‘heavily’ suggest that this marriage is like unwanted burden to her life and turned her life to be a futility one.

Poetic Devices in use

1)      Alliteration – ‘fingers fluttering’
2)      Enjambment – “...........fluttering through her woo
Find even .............”
3)      Hyperbole – The massive weight of uncle’s wedding band


            The third and last stanza is a bit futuristic one. The poet here brings contrasting pictures. When she would die her hands will still reflect the terrors she lived in her life time. Her finger with uncle’s wedding band reflect the penury she bore in her lifetime. But at the same time her tigers will remain the same, brave, courageous, free reflecting her missing self. They will stand as the refuting force against the male dominated society.

Poetic – devices in use

1)      Personification – terrified hands.

2)      Climax – will go on prancing, proud, and afraid.