A Silent Curse
Dinner is prepared. The children have finished their homework and the house is debris free. Another day in the life of a married housewife comes to a close. As we look back upon the time of our predecessors, this is the normal routine. Tasks are completed without question and in adherence to the strict expectations of the husband. During this time period, male dominance is evident through the treatment and lack of affection given to the women of the house. "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers," a poem, by Adrienne Rich and Kate Chopin's short story, "The Story of an Hour," equally capture the underlying meaning of matrimony. Both literary works have similar themes portraying a woman's struggle with oppression, marital burdens and the secret want for freedom.
As the poem by Rich opens, Aunt Jennifer is creating a beautiful work of needlepoint. It is through the power of symbolism that we discover the initial underlying meaning of the tigers in which she is stitching. Aunt Jennifer's Tigers are described as, "Bright topaz denizens of a world of green." It is both ironic and perfect that Rich chooses to use the word "denizens." For the most part, a denizen simply means an occupant, however, it is when we analyze slightly deeper, we find a supreme definition of this word. History proclaims a denizen to be a foreigner allowed certain rights within an adoptive country. This is the feeling of Aunt Jennifer; she feels like a prisoner of matrimony with limited rights to her own self-assurance. It is only when creating these masculine beasts, Aunt Jennifer is able to possess any means of ownership. Just as her husband has a sense of ownership over her, she too owns her tigers. This, in a sense, gives her a feeling of power, something she has been denied during marriage. Aunt Jennifer's Tigers are fearless; it states "They do not fear the men beneath the tree." Fearless, is something Aunt Jennifer herself longs to be.
Could it be that fear has completely consumed Aunt Jennifer? As the poem progresses, is this the cause of her fluttering fingers? No, it is the excitement of finally being able to create something that will allow her a form of expressive freedom. Aunt Jennifer can design these courageous animals any way she desires without any instruction from anyone else. She chooses to create tigers of all things, because of the attributes of courage and freedom they have. By sewing these into the screen, she is free at last to do something she wants, to convey a piece of her true self without criticism.
Women of this century are expected to care for the children and make the home, forbidding them to enjoy the things females longed for. Men, on the other hand, were the monetary providers who stressed a well disciplined home. With all of the stress and expectations of a marriage, a substantial burden is undoubtedly forced upon ladies of this era. Rich speaks of "the massive weight of Uncle's wedding band," depicting an image of...