Aunt Jennifer's Tigers by Adrienne Rich: Style

Rich in her poem Aunt Jennifer's Tigers uses innovative forms and the techniques that are supportive to her theme. This poem is a formal and structured in a lyrical pattern. Most of the words she uses are short and simple of everyday life.

Adrienne Rich (1929-2012)

 The unusual diction ‘denizens’ stands out and it shows how special the tigers are unlike how aunt Jennifer feels about herself. The word ‘chivalric’ shows that the tigers are proud and charming. The repeated use of full stops at the end of every second line shows the poem is controlled just like its subject ‘Aunt Jennifer’. The main images are of aunt Jennifer as a fearful wife and, secondly, the magnificent tigers she creates in her panel. Images of precious substances run through the poem: topaz, ivory, and gold of ‘wedding band’. The yellow precious stone ‘topaz’ metaphorically stands for the stripes of tiger. In the poem, meek Jennifer and her confident tiger are contrasted with each other. Fear is the prime atmosphere in Jennifer’s painful life where her fingers tremble while doing needle work in her husband’s absence. The air of freedom and confidence dominates the atmosphere in her artistic creation. Use of hyperbole is noticed in the use of ‘massive weight of uncle’s wedding band’ to make a point about how dominating he is. The paradoxical situation is created in the poem when trembling and ‘mastered’ woman creates free and confident creatures in her work of art. The tone appears to be positive and cheerful when the poet describes the tiger but it becomes sad and dull at times of describing aunt Jennifer.

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Sharma, Kedar N. "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers by Adrienne Rich: Style" BachelorandMaster, 20 Nov. 2013,