adrienne rich

A Summary and Analysis of Adrienne Rich’s ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’

‘Aunt Jennifer's Tigers' is a 1951 poem by the American poet Adrienne Rich (1929-2012), published in her poetry collection, A Change of World , which was published while the precocious Rich was still in her early twenties. Rich was known for her feminist writings as well as her poetry, and this fact is relevant for an analysis of ‘Aunt Jennifer's Tigers', in which the speaker describes her aunt's embroidery featuring tigers who prance proudly and unafraid, in contrast to the aunt's own meek, oppressive life and marriage. You can read the poem here before proceeding to our summary and analysis below. ‘Aunt Jennifer's Tigers': summary The poem comprises three stanzas. In the first stanza, the speaker describes the tigers her aunt has created in an embroidery. On the screen of fabric, the tigers appear to ‘prance' or move in a lively manner against the backdrop, which is green. They are without fear. The embroidery also contains some men under a tree, but the tigers are apparently unafraid of the men. They walk the scene, glossy and smooth and sure of themselves; they are majestic, like knights from the medieval days of chivalry . In the stanza, the speaker describes the movement of her aunt's finger as she works on the woollen embroidery with an ivory needle. On the aunt's finger is her wedding ring, denoting her marriage to the speaker's uncle. This wedding ring is described as sitting heavily on the aunt's hand, implying the oppressive […]

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