An Aunt S Hidden Life Essay Research

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An Aunt S Hidden Life Essay, Research Paper The mid twentieth century American poet Adrienne Rich was a product of a conservative Southern family. Rich s poem, Aunt Jennifer s Tigers clearly reflects this gender struggle, for it is evident that it is a feminist poem in which the poet criticizes the male-dominated world for frightening and oppressing Aunt Jennifer, leaving her no alternative but to create an alternate world of freedom for herself with her sewing. The main theme of Aunt Jennifer s Tigers is to reveal the hidden, vibrant inner life of Aunt Jennifer, as expressed in the content and theme of her tapestry, in sharp contrast to the outer image of the terrified, trapped woman she seems to be due to the social and cultural expectations and demands of her time. With

the use of similes, symbols, meter, structure, rhyme, connotation Rich created her poem: Aunt Jennifer s Tigers . Adrienne Rich uses a number of similes and symbols in the poem to convey her theme. The tigers of course symbolize the freedom of spirit which she dreams of attaining but never achieves except in her dreams and her art. Aunt Jennifer is symbolic of women as a whole rather than one individual. However, Adrienne Rich seems to distance herself from the image of Aunt Jennifer by placing Aunt Jennifer in a separate generation from herself. In addition, the verb prance is also used symbolically in the poem, both in the first stanza of the poem to describe the tigers in Aunt Jennifer s screen, and in the final line of the poem to create a proud, strong image of the tigers;

so fittingly symbolic of Aunt Jennifer s dreams and desires for herself. In terms of the meter, structure, and rhyme of the poem, Aunt Jennifer s Tigers , Adrienne Rich utilizes quatrains, consisting of couplets, for a total of six sentences in twelve lines. The rhyme scheme in the poem is very basic: AABB CCDD EEFF, and the rhythm in the three stanzas of the poem isn t a regular beat but varies from line to line as necessary. The structure of Aunt Jennifer s Tigers consists of the first stanza, which is about the proud tigers, the second stanza, which is about terrified Aunt Jennifer, and the third stanza, which refers first to Aunt Jennifer and then to the tigers. By starting the poem with the tigers and ending with the tigers, the poet is containing the real life within the

fantasy life, the reverse of what we know about Aunt Jennifer, whose inner life is in fact contained within her outer life. Adrienne Rich s connotation involves the use of carefully selected words and phrases to develop the theme of Aunt Jennifer s Tigers. The idea of death is explored at the beginning of the third stanza in showing that even Aunt Jennifer s death will not bring closure nor change to her role in a patriarchal society. Death is eternal and the idea of her terrified hands lying still ringed with the marriage she was burdened with in life reveals to the reader that she is timid, frightened by her inferiority, and condemned forever by the experiences in the marriage that ruled her. This is reflected in the line, Find even the ivory needle hard to pull, in which Rich

is presenting the reader with the consequences of living as a subordinate in a marriage that is a burden ultimately the woman will be unhappy, and will remain so until death, which is not a release (|.6). Another example is when Rich uses the tapestry as a way of expressing Aunt Jennifer s inner self. Aunt Jennifer can t escape in her real life because of the massive weight of Uncle s wedding band. (|.7). Although the tigers are above the men, Aunt Jennifer is pinned down, as is evident by the fact that, the band sits heavily on her hand. (|.8). In essence, she is trapped by both the marriage and the culture that supports the marriage. Furthermore, Aunt Jennifer s hands are terrified, (|.11) overwhelmed by the power that her husband, and society, have over her. She is mastered by