Adrienne Rich was an amazing poet who expressed certain matters and women’s needs through her writings. Her poem “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” was used to express male and female relationships or maybe one in particular. Although many critics argue the point of view, the overall theme of “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” is Aunt Jennifer’s oppression through marriage, and the use of embroidery as the form of self-expression.
The first verse of “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” is used to describe the tigers. They “prance across a screen”. This implies no sadness, the term “prance”, according to Dictionary. com, is defined to spring from the hind legs; to move by springing, as a horse, to ride gaily, proudly, or insolently, to move or go in an elated manner; cavort, and to dance or move in a lively or spirited manner; caper. This shows that the tigers are moving in a happy, lively fashion. They are “topaz denizens of a world of green”.
Topaz is unquestionably an ancient healing stone and gemstone. The Egyptians believed that topaz was colored with a golden glow of the mighty sun god Ra. Because of this they believed that topaz was very powerful and protected faithful against harm. The Romans associated topaz with Jupiter, who was their god of sun. The Romans considered topaz to be a symbol of power of the ruler who had it. They also believed that it bestowed wisdom on the ruler. The royal crown of England is set with nearly five hundred topaz stones.
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These stones have been said to have been mined in the Erzgebirge better known as Ore Mountains. According to the Bible, topaz is one of the many stones that protect New Jerusalem. In ancient Mexico topaz was used in conflicts to ascertain the truth. Aunt Jennifer expressed herself as a tiger mixed with the topaz stone has a important meaning of a certain power, and these tigers are unafraid knowing of the power it holds according to the verse “ They do not fear the man beneath the tree”. In the second verse Aunt Jennifer’s fingers “flutter” through the wool.
Although the meaning of the word flutter could be used both in a negative and positive way, they way send is having difficulty pulling the ivory needle in the next line persuades the reason to believe the fluttering is a sign of stress. Reading on to the next line, “The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band”, describes possibly why Aunt Jennifer is in distress. His wedding ring “sits heavily upon” her hand. The Uncle is not around anymore to wear his ring. Did he leave? Did he die? Because the ring itself cannot possibly be so heavy to affect her stitching, it must serve a symbolic meaning of the Uncle.
How could the Uncle feel heavy upon Aunt Jennifer? Was he violent, demanding or opressive to Aunt Jennifer? Althought we are not provided with any further information I believe it is safe to say the Uncle had some kind of a negative effect on Jennifer’s emotional state if she is displaying physical signs of agitation.
- "Adrienne Rich. " Wikipedia. org. Wikipedia. 1 Mar 2009. Rich, Adrienne.
- "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers. " Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Kennedy, X. J. , Dana Gioia. New York: 2010. Print.
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