Aunt Jennifer's Tigers by Adrienne Rich: Theme

Aunt Jennifer is portrayed as a nervous and fearful housewife lacking inner conviction unlike the tigers she creates. Jennifer is domesticated and mastered by her husband. Her husband owns her.

Adrienne Rich (1929-2012)

She is wife but is treated as slave and is controlled totally. Her fingers ‘flutter’ while in wool work. She is terrified with her husband which shows inequality and injustice in her marriage. Marriage brings two people in an equal position in each expects justice, love and equality in behavior. But here in this poem Jennifer has become the victim of injustice. She feels the burden of duty and obedience. This is shown by the symbol of the wedding ring that she wears. It is described as her husband’s property: ‘Uncle’s wedding band’. Her life with her husband is described as a life of ‘ordeals’. The poem therefore provides a negative picture of marriage.

Aunt Jennifer loves to make designs of wool. She creates an image of tiger in her work of art. The tiger is shown as a bold, powerful, bright, independent, free which metaphorically shows her innermost dream of being the same. The reality is bitter, she is tamed wife. She totally depends upon her husband. She is merely a puppet and controlled by her husband. Even she can’t do whatever she likes. In her husband’s absence she creates tiger but she trembles of fear. The tiger she creates do not fear the men the aunt places under same tree in her tapestry. It seems that she creates a happier looking world than the one she lives in. Therefore the imagery tigers produced by aunt Jennifer live a type of proud and free life that she can only dream about. Perhaps aunt Jennifer uses art as an escape from her troubles. In her artwork Jennifer imagines the kind of life she would have liked.

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