Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers Summary Class 12 English Flamingo

Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers —by Adrienne Rich

Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers Summary Class 12 English Flamingo

Explanation of the Poem

Stanza 1

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.


The given lines describe Aunt Jennifer’s tiger who appear to be moving across a screen or panel. These tigers are bright yellow coloured inhabitants of the forest. They are fearless, graceful, elegant and confident. They are not scared of any man standing under the tree and move about freely in a graceful manner. Aunt Jennifer’s tigers, thus, are not real or living tigers. They are the images created by her.

Stanza 2

“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.”


The given lines present Aunt Jennifer’s personality as opposite to her tigers. Aunt Jennifer’s hands are shaking while she is embroidering with wool. She is so terrified and scared that she is finding it hard to pull or work with the ivory needle. One reason according to the poet is the heavy wedding band that the Aunt is wearing.
Through this stanza, we get to know that the tigers are actually embroidered. They are the creative expression of her desire of freedom, courage, grace etc. These tigers are very different from her own nature. She is suppressed and oppressed in her married life. The uncle’s wedding band is a symbol of all the responsibilities that burden and restrict her. She wants to be free from the patriarchal society but is so fearful that even expressing her desire terrifies her. Her reality is submission but she desires the freedom, courage and confidence possessed by her tigers.

Stanza 3

“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.”


According to the poet, Aunt Jennifer is so burdened within the oppressive male dominated society that even after death, she will find no relief. Her life’s story will only be about the trauma, the ordeals and oppression that she was subjected to during her lifetime. In contrast, her tigers will still be proud and unafraid. Her art will forever depict her desire of freedom and courage.
It is important to note here that Aunt Jennifer represents all women who are restricted and oppressed under male domination. In addition, the poet also states that the Aunt’s act of embroidery is the only way she could retain her desires. Her art which represents her struggle for freedom and accomplishment will always remain immortal.
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