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and the nothing aunt jennifer tigers

Aunt Jennifer's Tigers
By Adrienne Rich
Aunt Jennifer's tigers stride across a screen
Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
They do not fear the men beneath the tree;
They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.

Aunt Jennifer's fingers fluttering through her wool
Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.
The massive weight of uncle's wedding band
Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer's hand.

When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie
Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by
The tigers in the panel that she made
Will go on striding, proud and unafraid.



The first stanza sets the setting for Aunt Jennifer's dream world for her and her tigers (Aunt Jennifer represents all women who are caught under the oppressive hand of a patriarchal society). Aunt Jennifer's tigers represent what women desired to be like during that time period. The tigers are do not fear men and as depicted on line four are heroic and conduct themselves in a manly fashion. These confidents tigers represent everything women desire to be.

The second stanza represents the reality of Aunt Jennifer's life. She is depicted doing needlepoint, which happens to be a very traditional activity for a woman. However, she is having trouble with this activity as expressed in line 7. Her inability to do this needlepoint represents her inability to express herself in a male dominated society. This weight that rests "heavily" on her hand is not something she enjoys and is oppressing her from doing what she really wants to.

The third stanza gives us a truthful look at the reality and end of Aunt Jennifer. It re-emphasizes the impact living in this patriarchal society had had on her. Despite the tragic end of Aunt Jennifer's life these tigers and the ideas of an oppressed free life for women carry on.




What does Rich say about this poem?

"I'm startled because beneath the conscious craft are glimpses of the split I even then experienced between the girl who wrote poems, who defined herself in writing poems, and the girl who was to define herself by her relationships with men" (632).

Rich says this poem is an example of a split that took place in her earlier writing. She has written in the oppressors (male) style however, has expressed feelings of a woman not writing for a purely male audience. Rich has gotten away with expressing these ideas because she wrote using the strategy of formalism that inevitably allowed her writing to sound the same as traditional male writing.

"I wanted women poets to be equals of men, and to be equal was still confused with sounding the same" (632).

What does she intend to illustrate? How does the poem illustrate this point/s?

I believe she meant to illustrate a narrative of a woman, Aunt Jennifer, under the oppression of a male. This is illustrated in the 2nd stanza when Rich describes Aunt Jennifer's hand as being too heavy to pull the needle through the wool because of the "massive weight of Uncle's wedding band" (7, 633). This "massive weight" is man's control over his wife and the wedding band is a symbol of his control. This idea is also supported in the third stanza when Rich describes Aunt Jennifer dead being still "ringed with the ordeals she was mastered by" (9-10, 633). Overall the poem illustrates oppression by stating in the first stanza what she really desires and then describing how she is oppressed and held back by the male in her life.


"For a poem to coalesce, for a character or an action to take shape, there has to be an imaginative transformation of reality which is no way passiveMoreover, if the imagination is to transcend and transform experience it has to question, to challenge, to conceive of alternatives, perhaps to the very life you are living at that moment. You have to be free to play around with the notion that day might be night, love might be hate, nothing can be too sacred for the imagination to turn into its opposite or to call experimentally by another name. For writing is renaming" (635).

How does the poem relate to the quotation at the top of the page?

The poem relates to the quote by transforming reality. She creates ... more

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Awakening Concepts Of Morality

The Awakening: Concepts of Morality

     The novel The Awakening, of which the author is Kate Chopin, drags its readers down into a poor mentality. The reader is shown how morals are scarcely used in common ordinance by Mrs. Pontellier. The reader is thrown from one incident of insubordination in a quarrel with Mr. Pontellier into her neglect for her children and then is heaved into Mrs. Pontellier's obsessive nature as an adulteress.
     Any insight into Mrs. Pontellier's too-free-spirited nature would have one's insides turn opposite of God's Will. From the beginning of the book, the reader sees that Mrs. Pontellier is irrational, self-obsessed, and perhaps intolerable. This image is brought on by her insistent attitude that she must have everything in the manner that she desires. Her insubordination in this society would have the denizens of the time returning quite spiteful glances at Mrs. Pontellier. A quote to help one picture the ill-willed persistence carried by Mrs. Pontellier was mentioned when the book summarizes her emotions: "She perceived that her will had blazed up, stubborn and resistant. She could not at that moment have done other than denied and resisted (P.31)." Her insistent attitude also made her self-righteous and neglectful of other persons.
     In other ways, Mrs. Pontellier's morality led to a dreadful deceit of her own children. Her self-righteous mindset was damaging to her children's vitality. The ways that she treated the children were full of neglect. As in a certain night, Mr. Pontellier returned home from work to find that one of his children had a fever. Mrs. Pontellier refused to look at the child because she stated that "He had gone to bed perfectly well . . . and nothing had ailed him all day (P.5)." Mr. Pontellier knew that his child had a fever, but could do nothing about it, and was left to ponder that his wife was a habitual neglecter of their children. He told her this and she did nothing. As a neutral detail, Mr. Pontellier had no idea what his beloved wife had on her mind.
     In Mrs. Pontellier's mind hovered the ever-present thought of another man, other than her husband. During most of the story, the man that Mrs. Pontellier fancied was Robert. Robert was an intriguing man that she met during the summers that were spent at Grand Isle. She had always been fond of the man, but he showed her little interest out of respect for her marriage. Even though Mrs. Pontellier was married, she insisted on falling in love with Robert. However, during the time that she was courting Robert, he went away to Mexico. Mrs. Pontellier took it upon her self and dated another man.
     In conclusion, another theme can be extracted from this book. That theme would be morality. Poor morals were harbored in much of this book and in most Mrs. Pontellier's actions and emotions. A mentality of despair appears in this book, it is sad to see a good life, such as Mrs. Pontellier's, be spoiled by a insatiable need to do only what made her feel happy. ... more

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