The poem “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” by Adrienne Rich is about a married woman who is portrayed through her creations. She knits tigers to show the type of person she truly longs to be; vigorous, free, and valiant- all the characteristics that women aren’t allowed to be. Aunt Jennifer knows that even when she passes away her art would live on and it will show who she’s always been, thus creating a theme of immortality throughout the poem.
“Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” is made up of three stanzas with four lines each. The rhyme scheme of the poem is: AABB CCDD EEFF. For example, the third stanza:
When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie (E)
Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by. (E)
The tigers in the panel that she made (F)
Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid. (9-12) (F)
Rich uses a continuous rhyme pattern at the end of each line which can be seen in the above referenced stanza. The words “lie”, “by”, “made” and “unafraid” channel the rhythm for the duration of the stanza; this technique that Rich uses is known as end rhyme. Also, it can be seen in
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the poem that it is written in iambic pentameter such as in line ten. “The tigers in the panel that she
made” All of these techniques mentioned make up the technical matters of the poem.
The first two lines of the poem read, “Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance across a screen/ Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.” (1-2) By using the word “prance” in the first line, Rich makes it seem as though the tigers aren’t particularly dangerous instead they are portrayed as carefree. Also, the word “prance” can be seen as Rich using personification because it’s not usually a word used to describe an animal, especially not a tiger. The next two lines read, “They do not fear the men beneath the tree;/They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.” (3-4) The tigers are describes as fearless by the fact that they are not afraid of the men. Again, Rich is using personification by describing the way the tigers pace as “chivalric”. This is usually a way to describe humans who are noble and brave such as our military troops. Through the first stanza it can be said that aunt Jennifer’s tigers are both fearless and not dangerous. This stanza also has a happy and playful mood because of the words that Rich chooses to describe the tigers such as, “bright topaz denizens of a world of green.” (2) This is a way that a writer may describe a character in a fairytale rather than a tiger.
In the second stanza, Rich provides more information on aunt Jennifer and her marriage. “Aunt Jennifer’s fingers fluttering through her wool/ Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.” (5-6) When I think of the word “fluttering” I think of being agitated or nervous....