Aunt Jennifer's Tigers 2 marks Bring out the significance of the word ringed in the poem ‘Aunt Jennifer’s

Tigers’? The word ringed has been used to convey a lot of meanings. Firstly ringed signifies the bond of marriage between a man and a woman. Secondly, it refers to being surrounded by or bound by. It has been used with the word ‘mastered’ which creates a feeling of a circus ring and its master. Thirdly it refers to Aunt Jennifer’s freedom or being curtailed. What kind of a person do you think was Aunt Jennifer? Aunt Jennifer was a timid and weak person. She was victimized by her domineering husband. She does not seem to have the coverage to raise her voice against oppression. Why does Aunt Jennifer find it hard to pull the ivory needles? Aunt Jennifer has been leading a suppressed life. She has been dominated by her husband. As a result she has become a mental wreck. It is more because of her nervousness than physical weakness that she is unable to pull the ivory needles. Comment on the married life of Aunt Jennifer. Aunt Jennifer is a submissive wife. She cannot resist uncle’s torture—physical or mental. She lives in perpetual terror of him. The marriage has ruined Aunt Jennifer’s personal life. Explain the stark difference in the death of Aunt and the tigers prancing? The tigers remain constant through the poem, and only seem to become stronger as the poem progresses. However, it is Aunt Jennifer who fades away. By the time of her death she has lost the part of her identity. Describe Aunt Jennifer’s tigers. How are they different from her? Aunt Jennifer’s embroidered tigers prance across a green screen. They are fearless. They are not afraid of the man beneath the tree. They move elegantly with brave style and confidence which is opposite to Aunt Jennifer’s character who is meek and finds difficult to pull the ivory needle from the wool and on whom the responsibility of married life weighs heavily. Explain ‘massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band’. Aunt Jennifer is tied down by the constraints of married life. The wedding band symbolizes the ordeals of married life. Why do you think Aunt made the tigers that were proud and unafraid? Aunt Jennifer wanted to be chivalric like the tigers; but was stifled by the institution of marriage. To give an expression of freedom to her subdued self she embroidered the prancing tigers that were proud and unafraid. What are the characteristics of the tiger that lend a contrast to the Aunt? The tigers are fearless, chivalric and they are confident. They enjoy their freedom. On the other hand, the Aunt 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?

The poet subtly brings out the contrast between the wonderful freedom of the work of art created by Aunt Jennifer and the constraints of Aunt Jennifer’s 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 gives expression to her creativity. What does Aunt Jennifer’s creation of the tigers symbolize? The tigers symbolize Aunt Jennifer’s desires. She expresses herself through the creation of her tigers that she embroiders with a needle for the panel on the wall. 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? Aunt Jennifer’s hands are fluttering because they are a reflection of her dominated and suppressed spirit. She is physically and emotionally bowed down 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 married life. She is afraid, nervous and depressed under the constraints of a depressing marriage. What do the tigers embroidered by Aunt Jennifer on the panel signify? 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. 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’? The image suggests that not only was the emotional and physical pressures of her married life bowed Aunt down but she is also suppressed by the weight of the wedding band which symbolizes the male dominated society. It has put her under a lot of stress and had curbed her freedom and happiness during her lifetime. Aunt is imprisoned by the burden of matrimony. 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? The ‘ordeals’ that surround Aunt Jennifer are the hardships and the oppression at the hands of 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 would still be free, she would never be free; her only hope for freedom is through her artistic creation, the tigers on the screen. Through them she 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? The poetess has created animals through Aunt Jennifer to depict a sharp contrast between their lives. The animals are free spirited, fearless, proud and happily prancing about on the other hand, Aunt’s life is symbolic of the fear, the suppression and the victimization of a woman in a male dominated society. The poet is probably suggesting that art may be an instrument of release for women who are trapped in an oppressive society.

What does the poetess suggest by saying that the tigers that she has embroidered will forever go on prancing proudly? The poetess strongly feels that even 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? 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’ suggest her challenges. Do you sympathize with Aunt Jennifer? What is the attitude of the speaker towards Aunt Jennifer? Yes, I do sympathize with Aunt Jennifer. The attitude of the speaker towards Aunt Jennifer appears to be negative and pessimistic because the poetess suggests that Aunt Jennifer, even after her death will continue to be weighed down heavily by the male dominated society. There will be no respite for her even after her death. Only her tigers will continue to live in the form of her artistic creation. 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. Paraphrase - Aunt Jennifer’s embroidered tigers prance (dance about) across the screen on the panel. The tigers are bright yellow 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. What are Aunt Jennifer’s tigers doing? How do they look like? The tigers are seen jumping around on the screen fixed on the wall. They look like shining yellow topaz (a precious stone). Where do they live? Who are they not afraid of? They live in green forests. They are fearless and are not afraid of the men under the tree. How is the movement of the tiger different from that of Aunt Jennifer? How is the contrast between the two brought out? What role does the word ‘men’ play in the poem? How does the poet employ the imageries of movement and colour in the poem?

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

Paraphrase - Aunt Jennifer is making an effort to use wool as a medium of her embroidery. Her ‘fingers flutter’ (alliteration) signifying that there is lack of confidence and difficulty in pulling out the ivory needles from the embroidery she is making. This depicts her frightened and timid nature because she has suffered at the hands of a male in her life, probably 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, in her married life. State which aspect of Aunt Jennifer’s character is projected here? The wedding band which is traditionally looked upon as a bond of mutual love and respect that keeps two people together has been used in a different context here. Do you agree? Explain the difference between the two contexts. What were Aunt Jennifer’s fingers fluttering through? Her fingers were fluttering through her wool. How was she pulling the needle? She was pulling the needle with a lot of difficulty. What did Aunt Jennifer have on her hand? What was the problem with that object? 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 terrifed 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. Paraphrase - According to the poet, 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 had 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 free-spirit and continue to dance about, proud and unafraid. Why are Aunt Jennifer’s hands called ‘terrified’? Aunt Jennifer has led a much 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. What are they still ringed with? 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? Even after Aunt’s death, the tigers will continue to jump about, feeling proud and unafraid.

Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers express her repressed emotions aesthetically on a canvasjustify. In spite of her limitations Aunt Jennifer displays her rebellious attitude. How? Discuss the relevance of the poem in the light of contemporary women’s movement. Do you agree that a strain of rebellion against male chauvinism runs through the poem? Elaborate. How do you relate the theme highlighted in the poem to Indian social context? Why do you think that the tigers are referred to as Aunt Jennifer’s tigers? Discuss the use of colours in the poem. Can Aunt Jennifer be taken as the spokesperson for all women around the world? Art is a form of creative expression. Do the tigers in the poem present creative freedom or a form of escape from reality? Can you say that Aunt Jennifer found an outlet for her emotions? If yes, how? How would you describe Aunt Jennifer? List the items in this poem which denote confinement and Freedom.

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