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in this poem 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

in this poem

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Great Wall

The Great Wall of China
To the northwest and north of Beijing, a huge, serrated wall zigzags it's way to the east and west along the undulating mountains. This is the Great Wall, which is said to be visible from the moon. This massive wall has not only been one of the Ancient Seven Wonders of the World, but it has also been inspiration for many artists, and writers. The building of the Great Wall is one of the biggest tragedy?s, but through this tragedy arose triumph with the wall, being so much to so many people. The Great Wall of China is much more than a wall, and was built for many reasons that are hidden to most.
Construction of the Great Wall started in the 7th century B.C. The wall states that under the Zhou Dynasty in the northern parts of the country each built their own walls for defense purposes. After the state of Qin unified China in 221 B.C., it joined the walls to hold off the invaders from the Xiongnu tribes in the north and extended them to more than 10,000 li or 5,000 kilometers. This is the origin of the name of the "10,000-li Great Wall". (Karls, Robert 10,000-li Great Wall)
To understand everything about the Great Wall it is necessary to know the many components of the wall, and their purposes. The Great Wall was renovated

Pearson 2
from time to time after the Qin Dynasty. A major renovation started with the founding of the Ming Dynasty in 1368, and took 200 years to complete. The wall
we see today is almost exactly the result of this effort. With a total length of over 6,000 kilometers, it extends to the jiayu Pass in Gansu Province in the west and to the mouth of the Yalu River in Liaoning Province in the east. What lies north of Beijing is but a small section of it. (Karls)
The Badaling section of the Great Wall snaking along the mountains northwest of Beijing was built at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century. Being 7.8 meters high and 5.8 meters wide at the top on the average, it has battle forts at important points, including the corners. (Karls)
Located 10 kilometers south of the Badaling section of the Great Wall and built in an 18.5-kilometre-long valley, the pass has always been an important gateway northwest of Beijing. The name is believed to have its origin in the workers and slaves conscripted to build the Great Wall in ancient times. Cloud Terrace, built in 1345, was originally the base of a pagoda over looking the main road of the town of the pass. The arched gate of the terrace and the walls inside the arch are decorated with carvings. Of elephants, lions, birds, flower and heavenly kings as well as charms in six languages-Sanskrit, Tibetan, Phats pa (Mongolian), Uygur, West Xia and Han. (Karls)
The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, 70 kilometers northeast of Beijing, is linked to the Gubeikou section on the east and the Badaling section on the

Pearson 3
west. The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is crenellated for watching and shooting at the invading enemy. Some of the battle forts on the wall are as close
as 50 meters apart. It is one of the best sections of the Great Wall. (Karls)
Located in Miyun County northeast of Beijing, the Jinshanling division of the Great Wall, like the Simatai division, belongs to the Gubeikou section of the colossal defence barrier. The battlements in the Jinshanling division of the Great Wall are built along the ridge of a mountain, where the soldiers can resist the invading enemy by taking advantage of the high terrain. (Karls)
Located to the east of Jinshanling, the Simatai division of the Great Wall is 3,000 meters long and has 35 battle forts. The wall rises and falls with the precipitous mountain ridge, while the battle forts are located high up the hills.
From the Beakon Tower alarm was raised by means of smoke signals, at night by fire. Smoke was produced by burning a mixture of wolf dung, sulfur and saltpeter. Shots were fired at the same time. Thus an alarm could be relayed ... more

in this poem

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