Extra Questions, Notes, Assignment and study material for Class 12th as Per CBSE Syllabus
Chapter- 6 English Language and Literature
Lesson Name- Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers
By- —Adrienne Rich
About the Author
Adrienne Rich – A Short Biography
Adrienne Cecile Rich (1929-2012) was an American poet, essayist and radical feminist. She was called “one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century”, and was credited with bringing into the fore, the oppression of women.
Theme / Central Idea of the Lesson. Analysis of Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers
The theme of the poem “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” by Adrienne Rich is how the power of the patriarchy controls women’s forms but not their minds. The poem makes this point by presenting the wild, interesting, powerful tigers embroidered by Aunt Jennifer and contrasting them with Aunt Jennifer, the oppressed wife.
Freedom has always been an important value in the United States that most people are not willing to give it up. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a writer who lived in the 1800s, reminded Americans of their rights of liberty at a time when many people started to conform to established norms. He voiced his opinions about the loss of freedom and invited society to realize that they were relinquishing their rights. Years later, his views still had an impact on citizens. Adrienne Rich, a poet of the mid-1900s, also found her autonomy a necessity in life. She wrote a poem in 1951 called “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers,” which exhibited her opinions about living a life of reliance on others.
Moral/ Message of the lesson – Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers
“Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” is a statement of conflict in women, specifically between the impulse to freedom and imagination. Aunt Jennifer wants a life that she embroiders on the panel. She wants a colour full vibrant life which every woman should have the power to create.
The tone appears to be positive and cheerful when the poet describes the tiger but it becomes sad and dull at times when describing aunt Jennifer.
The poem depicts:
- Aunt Jennifer’s desires and her dream.
- The real picture of Aunt Jennifer’s life.
Symbols in the poem
- Aunt Jennifer represents women all over the world wedged under the tyrannical hand of a patriarchal society.
- Aunt Jennifer’s tigers symbolize her dreams and desires of being powerful, fearless, decisive and liberated.
- The wedding band signifies the patriarchal society where the command is defined as masculine.
- Uncle denotes the oppressor.
- Aunt Jennifer’s hands represent the reality of her life.
1. What words help us to understand the tiger’s attitude?
(i) pace and prance suggest strength and energy, and movement in blithe.
(ii) bright topaz colour gives the Tigers the attention to their prominent presence.
(iii) denizens mean occupants. Tigers are grand and fearless in their natural surroundings.
(iv) chivalric certainty represents the power and virtue with confidence and conviction.
2.Justification of the title: Aunt Jennifer is weaving a tapestry with a picture of tigers representing her desire— she pines for the qualities she has endowed to these tigers.
3.The contrast in the poem:
Aunt Jennifer is an oppressed woman dominated by male superiority, victimized, fearful, indecisive, weak, timid, feeble, shivering in fear, stifled and weighed upon by the marriage, whereas the tigers she weaves are chivalric, confident, fearless, assertive, strong and energetic.
- Poetic devices used in the poem:
(i) Symbols: (a) Uncle, (b) Aunt, (c) Tigers, (d) Wedding band, (e) Aunt Jennifer’s hand.
(ii) Synecdoche and transferred epithet—terrified hands’ representing her being terrified.
(iii) Pun— ‘ringed’: (a) ring in her finger which sits heavily on her and (b) difficulties which will always surround her.
(iv) Irony—(a) a weak and submissive woman weaving a picture of tigers that are strong and fearless.
(b) brutal tigers are depicted chivalric and the cultured man is depicted as an oppressor.
(c) Even when the creator dies, her work will continue to exist.
(v) Contrast—the characteristics of Aunt Jennifer and that of the tiger.
(vi) Alliteration—`fingers fluttering’
(vii) Imageries—’bright topaz denizens in the world of green’, ‘men beneath the `..wedding band/Sits heavily..’
- The future of Aunt Jennifer Being: subservient Aunt Jennifer doesn’t win. First, she loses her identity, (only termed as ‘Aunt’ in the last stanza) and then loses herself to death, and even in death, she must obey the rules of the patriarchal society.
- Why will Aunt Jennifer’s hands be ringed with ordeals after her death?
Aunt Jennifer represents the oppressed women of the patriarchal society. It connotes that
(i)Aunt is troubled by her marriage to the burdensome husband.
(ii) With the death of one oppressed woman, oppression will not vanish from the face of this earth.
- The significance of the last two lines of the poem
(i) The mortal Aunt Jennifer created the immortal tigers.
(ii) Even if the woman with the desire, dies, it does not end the desire of freedom in the other women in this patriarchal society—the poet imparts a ray of hope to liberate women from the bondage of the oppressed men.
Wedding band: a symbol of oppression in an unhappy marriage. Its weight refers to the burden of gender expectations. Ringed means encircled or trapped, losing individuality and freedom.
Aunt Jennifer: a typical victim of male oppression in an unhappy marriage, who suffers a loss of individuality, dignity and personal freedom silently. She becomes dependent, fearful and frail.
Tigers: symbolize untamed free spirit. Here they stand in contrast to their creator’s personality. The use of colours implies that Aunt Jennifer’s tigers and their land are vital and they enjoy a sense of freedom far greater than she does. They pace and prance freely, proudly, fearless, confident and majestic, fearless of men Yellow (bright topaz) connotes the sun and fierce energy; green reminds one of spring and vitality.
Embroidery: a symbol of creative expression. The artwork expresses the Aunt’s suppressed desires and becomes her escape from the oppressive reality of her life.
Aunt (last stanza): the use of the word Aunt as opposed to Aunt Jennifer. It shows that she has lost her identity completely, thus lost even her name.
Ringed with ordeals: even death would not free her as the wedding band, a symbol of oppression, would still be on her finger.
Visual imagery: Bright topaz denizens; the world of green
Irony: It is ironical that Aunt Jennifer’s creations- the tigers will continue to pace and prance freely, while Aunt herself will remain terrified even after death, ringed by the ordeals she was controlled by in her married life.
Ringed with ordeals: even death would not free her as the wedding band, a symbol of oppression, will be there.
Terrified fingers: a Transferred epithet
Alliteration: “fingers fluttering”, “Prancing proud”
Hyperbole: The weight of a husband’s wedding ring.
Paradox: Aunt Jennifer, a trembling and ‘mastered’ woman creates free and confident tigers. Fingers fluttering produce tigers who prance with ‘certainty’.
Short and Simple Summary of the lesson in English– Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers / Summary in simple Words/ Critical appreciation of the lesson – Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers
In the poem, the poet Adrienne Rich addresses the constraints of married life experienced by women, especially her Aunt Jennifer who is shown to be a victim of a male-dominated world. Aunt Jennifer’s embroidered tigers prance (a dance about) across the screen on the panel. The Tigers are bright yellow. They are residents (denizens) or inhabitants of a green world (green forest). Their spirit is free and they are not afraid of the men shown beneath the tree. They walk about fearless, with confidence and with free movements, unperturbed or undisturbed by anything around them.
Aunt Jennifer is making an effort to embroider. Her ‘fingers flutter’ (alliteration) signifying that there is a lack of confidence and that she faces difficulty in pulling out the ivory needles. This depicts her frightened and timid nature because she has suffered at the hands of her husband. The wedding band that she wears on her finger appears to be heavy metaphorically speaking, depicting the ordeals and sufferings that she has been subjected to. Such is the trauma of Jennifer’s life that it may continue to haunt her even after her death. Her hands will still depict the ring (bowed down) which symbolizes the ordeals that suppressed her during her lifetime. On the other hand, her creative expression will continue to live in the form of the tigers that she has created in her panel. The tigers depict a free-spirited being who will continue to dance about, proud and unafraid.
Following is the complete question bank for – Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers
Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers Extra Questions and Answers
MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS
- The poem ‘Aunt Jennifer’ is written by
(a) Elizabeth Arden (b) Adrienne Rich
(c) Kamla Das (d) Sarojini Naidu
- Aunt Jennifer’s tigers are actually
(a) Bengal tigers (b) Assam tigers
(c) embroidered tigers (d) white tigers
- What do the Tigers do on the screen? They
(a) sing (b) jump
(c) catch the prey (d) prance
- The poet describes the colour of the tigers as
(a) brown (b) light brown
(c) dark brown (d) topaz coloured
- ‘Denizens’ of a world of green means
(a) residents of forests (b) residents of green buildings
(c) live in green cages (d) live in green grasslands
- The Tigers are not afraid of
(a) the hunters (b) the elephants
(c) the lions (d) the men beneath the tree
- ‘They pace’ is referred to
(a) the human beings (b) Jennifer’s family members
(c) the tigers (d) the lions
- ‘Sleek chivalric certainty’ of the tigers means
(a) totally free movement of the tigers(b) ensure tiger in the cage
(c) tiger moving in his cage (d) tiger trying to be chivalrous
- The rhyme scheme in stanza one is
(a) AABB (b) abab
(c) ABC (d) abbe
- ‘Fingers fluttering through her wool’. The poetic device used here is
(a) simile (b) metaphor
(c) alliteration (d) personification lie
11. What is Aunt Jennifer doing with wool?
(a) she is embroidering a wall panel (b) she is knitting a scarf
(c) she is making a ball of wool (d) she is knitting a cap
- What do her ‘fluttering fingers’ find hard?
(a) to pull the ivory needle (b) to roll the ball off the wall
(c) to thread the needle (d) to draw the sketch of tigers
- The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band is a subtle reference to
(a) male oppression
(b) suppression at the hands of her husband
(c) the heavy gold ring
(d) the huge gold wedding band makes her uncomfortable
- What was lying heavily?
(a) her wedding band (b) the Tigers on the screen
(c) uncle of the poet (d) Aunt Jennifer’s cat
- The word ‘prance’ in the poem means
(a) to jump ahead (b) to dance
(c) to eat (d) to prowl
- ‘Denizens’ in the poem means
(a) resting place (b) forest
(c) residents (d) slum areas
- The word ‘chivalric’ in the context means
(a) timid (b) arrogant
(c) honourable and brave (d) malicious
- Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand. This line means that
(a) Aunt Jennifer is a sufferer in a male-dominated society (b) is a heavy object
(c) hard to carry (d) cannot lift it at all
- Aunt Jennifer’s family consists of
(a) she and her husband (b) she and her tigers
(c) she and her kids (d) she and her servants
- ‘Terrified hands’ of Aunt Jennifer means
(a) hard and bitter experience of married life (b) scared hands
(c) un-manicured hands (d) soft and nice hands
- ‘Still ringed’ means
(a) oppression will continue (b) too many rings on her fingers
(c) ring of the bell (d) quiet and peaceful
- ‘Ordeals’ refers to
(a) happy times (b) hardships
(c) joy and splendour (d) party time
- She was mastered by is a reference made to the
(a) hardships and difficulties that Aunt Jennifer faced during her lifetime
(b) she was a slave
(c) he had a rude master
(d) her teacher taught her nothing
- The tigers in the panel that she made’ means
(a) the tigers she sent to the zoo
(b) the tigers embroidered by Jennifer
(c) the tigers that do tricks
(d) the tigers that killed her husband
- ‘Proud’ and ‘unafraid’. These two adjectives have been used for
(a) the uncle (b) the males in the society
(c) the tigers on the forest (d) the tigers on the panel
- Will go on prancing’ means the
(a) spirit of freedom of the tigers will continue to exist
(b) tigers will dance
(c) tigers will kill
(d) tigers will show tricks
- ‘Massive’ means
(a) high (b) huge
(c) minimum (d) small
- The poem ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’ uses ‘wedding bands’, ‘tigers’, ‘terrified hands’ etc as
(a) symbols (b) poetic devices
(c) as alliteration (d) as a metaphor
- The attitude of the poet towards Aunt Jennifer is that of
(a) hatred (b) love
(c) sympathy (d) casual
- The beautiful and lifelike tigers on the panel, show Aunt Jennifer’s
(a) hatred for life (b) hatred for men
(c) creativity (d) suffering
1.(b) Adrienne Rich
2. (c) embroidered tigers
4. (d) topaz coloured
5.(a) residents of forests
6. (d) the men beneath the tree
7.(c) the Tigers
8. (a) totally free movement of the tigers
10. (c) alliteration
11.(a) she is embroidering a wall panel
12. (b) to roll the ball off the wall
13.(b) suppression at the hands of her husband
14. (a) her wedding band
15.(a) to jump ahead
16. (c) residents
17.(c) honourable and brave
18.(a) Aunt Jennifer is a sufferer in a male-dominated society
19.(a) she and her husband
20.(a) hard and bitter experience of married life
21.(a) oppression will continue
22. (b) hardships
23.(a) hardships and difficulties that Aunt Jennifer faced during her lifetime
24. (b) the tigers embroidered by Jennifer
25. (d) the Tigers on the panel
26. (a) spirit of freedom of the tigers will continue to exist
28. (a) symbols
30. (c) creativity
Read the following extracts and answer the questions given below: [Delhi 2017]
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.
- Name the poem and the poet of these lines.
Ans. The poem is ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers and the poet is Adrienne Rich.
- What are Aunt Jennifer’s tigers doing? How do they look like?
Ans. The Tigers are seen prancing on the screen. They are yellow like topaz (a precious stone).
- Where do they live? Who are they not afraid of?
Ans. They live in green forests. They are fearless and are not afraid of the men beneath the tree.
- 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
- What were Aunt Jennifer’s fingers fluttering through?
Ans. Her fingers were fluttering through her wool.
- How was she pulling the needle?
Ans. She was pulling the needle with a lot of difficulties.
- What did Aunt Jennifer have on her hand? What was the problem with that object?
Ans. Aunt Jennifer had her husband’s wedding band on her finger. The problem was that his band lay heavily on her hand because it was a symbol of the difficulties and hardships that she had borne in her married life.
- 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
(a)Why are Aunt Jennifer’s hands called ‘terrified’?
Ans. Aunt Jennifer has led a very suppressed life and probably has faced a lot of hardships and difficulties. Her hands are terrified due to the fear generated in her life by the dominating males.
(b) What are they still ringed with?
Ans. They still seem to carry the burden of hardships and difficult times which troubled her when she was alive.
- What will happen to the Tigers after her death?
Ans. Even after Aunt’s death, the Tigers will continue to jump about, feeling proud and unafraid.
- Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance across a screen, [Delhi 2017]
Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
They do not fear the men beneath the tree:
They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.
(a)Why are the tigers called Aunt Jennifer’s tigers?
Ans. Since aunt Jennifer is embroidering the motif of the tiger on a panel, they are referred to like hers.
(b) How are they described here?
Ans. They are described as having topaz coloured fir. They are sleek, brave, fearless and confident.
(c)How are they different from Aunt Jennifer?
Ans. While aunt Jennifer is timid, weak, burdened and overpowered by her marital ordeals, the Tigers are sleek, brave, fearless and confident.
- What does the word’ chivalric’ mean?
Ans. Chivalric means brave.
- Aunt Jennifer’s fingers fluttering through her wool [All India 2017]
Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.
The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band
Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand.
(a)What is Aunt Jennifer doing with her wool?
Ans. Aunt Jennifer is working on an embroidery panel creating tigers.
(b) Why does she find it difficult to pull her ivory needle?
Ans. She is unhappy in her married life. She is fearful and has lost confidence in herself.
- What does ‘wedding band’ stand for?
Ans. The wedding band stands for the oppressive control of her husband over her w has taken away her freedom and independence.
- Describe the irony in the third line.
Ans. The wedding band is a symbol of conjugal happiness but ironically, for aunt Jennifer, it has become a burden.
SHORT ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS
1. What are the characteristics of the tiger that lend a contrast to the Aunt?
Ans. The Tigers are fearless, chivalric and they are confident. They enjoy their freedom. On the other hand, Aunt Jennifer is oppressed and a victim of a male-dominated society. The Tigers are fearless and are not afraid of men.
- What is the theme of the poem?
Ans. The poet subtly brings out the contrast between the wonderful freedom of the work of art created by Aunt Jennifer and the constraints of her married personal life. The Aunt has been subjected to suppression at the hands of her dominating husband and it is only in the embroidery that she is free and gives expression to her creativity.
- What does Aunt Jennifer’s creation of the tigers symbolize?
Ans. The tigers symbolize Aunt Jennifer’s desires. She expresses herself through the creation of her tigers whom she embroiders with a needle for a panel. The Tigers are free and symbolize Jennifer’s own longing to be free and powerful.
- Why do you think Aunt Jennifer’s hands are ‘fluttering through her wool’ in the second stanza? Why is she finding the needle so hard to pull?
Ans. Aunt Jennifer’s hands are fluttering because they are a reflection of her dominated and suppressed spirit. She is physically and emotionally drained and finds it hard to pull the needle. Her hands are heavy with the weight of the wedding ring which symbolizes the hardships and difficulties of her life.
- What do the tigers embroider by Aunt Jennifer on the panel signify?
Ans. The tigers on the panel signify their free movement, lack of fear and their self-assurance as compared to Aunt Jennifer who is a victim of a male-dominated society. The Tigers are depicted in sharp contrast to Aunt’s own predicament.
- Describe the tigers on the panel.
Ans. The tigers on the embroidered panel are of rich colours, ‘bright topaz’. They are described as the residents of a green world (forest). They are fearless, confident, sure of their movements and do not feel frightened of the men shown beneath the tree. They move freely and are symbolic of ‘free spirit’.
- What is suggested by the image ‘massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band’?
Ans. The image suggests that not only is Aunt bowed down by the emotional and physical pressures of her married life but she is also suppressed by the weight of the wedding band meaning that male-dominated society has put her under a lot of stress and has curbed her freedom and happiness.
- What are the ‘ordeals’ Aunt Jennifer is surrounded by? Why is it significant that the poet uses the word ‘ringed’? What are the meanings of the word `ringed’ in the poem?
Ans. The ‘ordeals’ that surround Aunt Jennifer are the hardships and the oppression in a male-dominated society. The poet uses the word ‘ringed’ to signify that after her death also, Aunt Jennifer’s hands will still be affected by the dominance of a male, perhaps her husband. While the Tigers will be free, she would never be free; her only hope for freedom is through her artistic creation or the Tigers on the screen. Through them she I can depict the courage and confidence that she lacked in her own life.
- Why do you think Aunt Jennifer created animals that are so different from her own character? What might the poet be suggesting through this difference?
Ans. Aunt Jennifer created animals who were free-spirited, fearless, proud and happily prancing about. On the other hand, Aunt Jennifer’s life is symbolic of the fear, the suppression and the victimization of a woman in a male-dominated society. The poet suggests that art may be an instrument of release for women like Aunt, who are trapped in an oppressive marriage.
- What does the poetess suggest by saying that the tigers that she has embroidered will forever go on prancing proudly?
Ans. When Aunt Jennifer is no more, her tigers will continue to live on the panel. A work of art will continue to be an expression of Aunt Jennifer’s creativity and the Tigers will forever be seen, prancing about, fearless and free-spirited.
- What are the examples in the poem that suggest that Aunt Jennifer found her life a great challenge?
Ans. The poem suggests that Aunt’s life was full of hardships and difficulties. She was a victim of male oppression and seemed to have suffered a lot at uncle’s hands. Uncle is a symbol of a male-dominated society. The reference to ‘fluttering fingers’, ‘needle hard to pull’ massive weight of ‘ordeals’ suggests her challenges.
- Do you sympathize with Aunt Jennifer? What is the attitude of the speaker towards Aunt Jennifer?
Ans. Yes, I do sympathize with Aunt Jennifer. The attitude of the speaker towards Aunt Jennifer appears to be pessimistic because it is suggested that Aunt Jennifer, even after her death will continue to be weighed down heavily by the burdens of her life. There will be no respite for her even after her death. Only her tigers will continue to live happily in the form of her artistic creation.
Value Based Questions and Answers of Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers
Q1. Steeped in feminism, Rich presents a vivid criticism of a male-dominated societal setup. Comment.
Ans. The first few lines of the poem bring out the patriarchal attitude and discrimination against women. Aunt Jennifer has been reduced to a meek, terrified woman who weaves a world of her own. Aunt Jennifer is unhappy because of the patriarchal system that confines all women. The poem really wants us to condemn the system, not an individual like Uncle.