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the world that 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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A Comparison Of The Status Of Women In Classical Athens And Early Chri

A Comparison of the Status of Women in Classical Athens and Early Christianity


     Since the beginning of time the treatment of women has improved
dramatically. In the earliest of times women were mere slaves to men. Today
women are near equals in almost all fields. In 411 B.C., when Lysistrata was
written, men had many stunning advantages to that of their female counterparts.
Although women's rights between 30 and 100 A.D., the time of the New Testament,
were still not what they are today, the treatment of women was far better.
Overall, the equality of women in the New Testament exceeds that of the women in
Lysistrata in three major ways: physical mobility, society's view of women's
nature, and women's public legal rights.
     Albeit in Lysistrata the women were shown as revolutionaries rising up
against the men, women in classical Greece were never like that. Aristophanes
created the play as a comedy, showing how the world might be in the times of the
Peloponesian war if women tried to do something. It was the women's job to stay
home and tend to the house, and never leave, unlike they did in the play, the
women were shown as revolutionaries rising up against the men, women in
classical Greece were never like that.
     The activities of women in Classical Athens were confined to "bearing
children, spinning and weaving, and maybe managing the domestic arrangements. No
wandering in the beautiful streets for them." The suppression of women went so
far as to divide the house into separate areas for males and females. While the
women stayed home, the men were usually out fighting, and when they weren't
fighting, they were entertaining their friends and having sexual favors
performed by courtesans.
     The rights of women in early Christianity were a far cry from today,
although they were much better off than their Athenian counterparts. In the
Christian church, women were treated as equals. The first evidence of this is
when the woman with hemorrhages touches Jesus' clothing and he says that her
faith has made her well (Mark 5:34). This shows that both sexes are treated
equally in that eyes of god even though at this time the hemorrhages that the
woman was having was a symbol of uncleanness, and that good things can happen to
both if they have enough "faith."
     The rights of women are also extended in the New Testament when the
rights of husband and wife are shown as equals. It is stated that each should
show affection to their partner, and that each partner controls their mate's
body (I Corinthians 7:3-4). This shows that each person should be equal in the
marriage, unlike in Lysistrata where the man did whatever he wanted to whomever
he wanted while the woman slaved at home .
     Women were also considered to be more "enpowered" in the times of the
New Testament. This is displayed when the women nearly monopolize the practice
of speaking in tongues, or even speaking at all (I Corinthians 14:36). Speaking
in tongues was thought to be much like talking from the angels, which was
considered to special talent.
     Overall the women of early Christianity had a better quality of life
than those in classical Athens. They were not only allowed to leave the house
more, but they were also treated more as equals in society's view of women, and
their public rights. ... more

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