Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers Summary | Class 12 by Adrienne Rich
Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers Summary
Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers Summary : This is a feminist poem which revolves around the theme of male domination and gender conflicts. Through this poem, it has been shown that women are not only harassed mentally but also physically by their male counterparts. Aunt Jennifer, who is a universal figure symbolizing all the women of this world, is victimized and tortured by her husband in the poem.
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.
The poet begins this poem with one of the three quatrains (four-liner stanza) highlighting the creation of Aunt Jennifer who is knitting tigers on a piece of cloth. She has crafted beautiful tigers which are bright, yellowish and brownish in colour and unafraid of the men sitting beneath the tree. According to Adrienne Rich, tigers have their own style, standard of living and the best thing about them is their certainty. On the whole, the poet dedicates this whole stanza elaborating the quality and bravery of the tigers.
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.
In second quatrain, the poet highlights the pathetic condition of Aunt Jennifer whose hands are fluttering as she is afraid of her husband who molests her both mentally and physically. Her pain can’t be explained in words as she is forlorn and unable to pull that light-weighed ivory needle. The poet holds her wedding band responsible for her plight as she suffers due to that band. According to the poet, the whole pressure is created by that knot which she tied with her husband.
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.
In third quatrain, seeing the gender oppression on Aunt Jennifer, the poet states that the only solution to Aunt Jennifer’s problem is her death. She will have to bear all this suppression till she dies. She is still ringed (surrounded) with the atrocities and molestation done by her husband as if she were an animal and her slave. On the contrary, the society which is male dominated, will not at all be affected with her death. Nobody will come to mourn at her death not even her husband. But the tigers, she has made in the panel, will remain ferocious, bold and unafraid till the end.
On the whole we can say that this poem is written to highlight the poor condition of ever suffering women of this world.
Short Answer Type Questions of Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers
Q1. What made Aunt Jennifer only choose to knit tigers on the screen not any other animals?
Ans. Since tigers are the epitome of bravery and ferociousness & untamed by anyone in this world, they have a unique feature that they are unafraid of human beings. In order to express her desire & feel dominant, she knits tigers instead of any other animal on the screen.
Q2. Do you sympathise with Aunt Jennifer in this poem? Give reasons in support to your answer.
Ans. Undoubtedly, we sympathise not only with Aunt Jennifer but also each and every woman who is exploited by her husband. No one has got any right to play with the freedom and emotions of the women. According to me, such woman should take a stand and raise their voice against the molestation.
Q3. What ordeals do you think Aunt Jennifer is surrounded by?
Ans. According to me, Aunt Jennifer is not only oppressed by her husband but also disrespected in this male-dominated society. She is not allowed to work freely but with stress and tension. Although nothing has been stated in this poem about the atrocities yet we can figure out by taking a common example of any woman being harassed by her husband.
Q4. Of what or of whom is Aunt Jennifer terrified in this poem?
Ans. According to me, Aunt Jennifer is terrified of her husband in this poem. Latter, who has forgotten all his humanity, finds fault in every work of his wife, abuses her mentally as well as physically and dominates her everywhere wherever she goes. We can only anticipate only as nothing has been stated in this poem about her oppression.
Q5. How do ‘Denizens’ and ‘chivalric’ add to our understanding of the tiger’s attitude?
Ans. Denizens means inhabitants and chivalric suggests bravery. These two adjectives have been used for tigers to showcase their dominance in their world. Both the words suggest that tigers are free to move in their green world where they live whereas their bravery is not hidden from this world.
Q6. What will be the effect of Aunt Jennifer’s death on the tigers and on the society?
Ans. Death is inevitable which everyone in this world is known to. According to me, no one will be affected by the death of Aunt Jennifer neither the society nor the tigers. They both will remain unaffected and enjoy their lives without and woes.
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