Explain the imagery and symbols the Adrienne Rich uses in the poem "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers".

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Michael Ugulini | (Level 3) Educator

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One of the images used in the poem "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers" by the poet Adrienne Rich is the image of the regal tigers prancing across the screen. In the poem, the woman is knitting a panel, which portrays these beautiful animals. Another image, which blossoms in the mind's eye, is the color of the tigers - "bright topaz denizens".

Imagery is also evident in Aunt Jennifer's

     fingers fluttering through her wool

A symbol in this poem is the Uncle's (Aunt Jennifer's husband's) wedding band that he gave to her, which is on her hand. The heaviness (to Aunt Jennifer) of the ring, and the ring itself, symbolizes the oppression she feels in her marriage. The intent of this line is to convey the sad state of Aunt Jennifer's marriage. She has the weight of an unsatisfying marriage weighing on her, and her knitting may be an outlet to express her true self.

The panel that Aunt Jennifer is knitting is in itself a symbol. It represents the vibrant, colorful life that she wishes she had. Even the tigers of the poem are a symbol; they represent the power and vitality she wishes she had to take charge of her situation and better her life. Instead, she feels helpless and lives a life terrified, fearful of her husband and her unfortunate station in life.

 

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