Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance 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 prancing, proud and unafraid.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Adrienne Rich's poem Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers

32 Comments

  1. Adam K says:

    The marriage of Aunt Jennifer is becoming strained. She seems to deal with her emotions by sewing, which evokes gender roles in society. The heavy ring on her finger makes the reader feel as though she wishes to take it off. She cannot, however, and even in death her hands will not lie still and calm. She seems to be trapped in her gender roles as wife and caretaker and is unable to roam free like the tigers she sews into her cloth.

  2. Katriece says:

    It is clear in this poem that Aunt Jennifer finds release in her art. She is putting the pain and anger she feels from her marraige into the tigers. They represent “proud and unafraid” beings which Aunt Jennifer wishes she was.

  3. Kelsey says:

    Art is an escape for a lot of people and Aunt Jennifer is one of them. She wants to be free and fearless and have the power but she cannot get away from the source of her problems, even in death. She not happy in her marriage and she does not feel like there is anything she can do but sit and suffer through it which is why the art and the tigers are so important and represent what she wishes she could have.

  4. Mitch says:

    Jenny seems like she is in a struggling and damaging marriage. I think she uses her art to express the way she wants to feel. She wants to be free and her own person.

  5. Krista says:

    Aunt Jennifer uses her art to escape from the societal contracts she is bound to. She creates these beautiful, strong tigers who are free kings and queens of the forest. They make their own decisions. The tigers do not fear men in the way that she does and do not cower in the face of pressure; their world is wild and free where hers is controlled.
    This poem refers to an early time. It is not common nowadays to create screens made of wool and to use an ivory needle to do so. This leads me to think that her marriage with the uncle was arranged or she was forced into it for familial or societal reasons.
    Her wedding ring weighs her down until death because it represents her lack of freedom. The phrase “terrified hands” makes me think that her marriage was abusive or she was incredibly timid or fragile. Even in death, it seems she has not found freedom, but the tigers will keep representing the strength she wished she had.

  6. Anu says:

    Aunt Jennifer has to restrain her desires being a woman and the only way she can express her independent nature is by comparing herself with fearless tigers. Maybe by screen in “tigers prance across the screen” she is talking about screen of canvas, wool or paper where she can express anything she wants and that will last longer than her controlled life.

  7. Margaret says:

    In this poem, Aunt Jennifer is in an unhappy and restricting marriage, which is why her hand is weighed down by the wedding band. Through her art, she creates tigers who are free and not afraid of men, as she is. When she dies, she is still not free from the hardships she endured in her marriage, but her tigers remain free. I think through art, people can express their feelings and create worlds in which they wish they lived in, as Aunt Jennifer does in the poem.

  8. Arafath Raihan says:

    Aunt Jennifer was not mastered by her husband. She was mastered by the old, obstractive system of the society. And the tigers prancing beneath the trees symbolize, she can hardly wait to express her briliantness. So keep in mind that it is not Uncle’s false for everything.

  9. kawsar says:

    I think its very important for women. Here is strong voice against women oppression.

  10. HELLO says:

    IT IS NOT GOOD POEM HAHAHAHAHAHA

  11. sumita dhar says:

    It’s an expression to project the way women are suppressed in our so called male dominated society. many a times the aspirations and talents lie latent , aunt jenny moves ahead give a silent but bold reply to the dominance silently and aptly.Weaves her dream on the panel and quietly give vent to her needs ,though none have understood yet she has kept her hope desire alive.

  12. dayal says:

    aunt jenny has been subjected to exploitation by her husband representing patriarchal society.she is docile and has endured this pain without a word of protest .she did not open her feelings to any one .her emotions ,her feelings her frustration find expression in the form of tiger she has created .these tigers represent her mute reply to her husband and the society she lives in . she understands that she should have been free should have faced her husband boldly but only god knows why she preferred to tolerate the attrocities silently

Leave a Reply to Cheryl Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by Adrienne Rich better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.