Q. How do ‘denizens’ and ‘chivalric’ add to our understanding of the tigers attitudes?
Ans. Like all beasts of prey, the tigers are the denizens of forest. They live far away from human settlements. They are called ‘chivalric.’ This indicates the majestic and honourable position that they occupy in the world of animals. So the use of the words ‘denizens’ and ‘chivalric’ adds to our understanding of the tigers’ attitudes.
Q. 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 is weaving tigers on the panel. Her hands are moving about her wool. She is finding the needle quite hard to pull. The weight of years of her married life is lying heavy on her hand. This makes the pulling of the neddle so hard.
Q. What is suggested by the image ‘massive weight of uncle’s wedding band’?
Ans. It suggests the weight of the harsh and difficult experience of Aunt Jennifer’s married life. The image is quite suggestive. The wedding band is symbolic. It represents the unbreakable bond of marriage between the husband and the wife.
Q. Of what or whom is Aunt Jennifer terrified in the third stanza?
Ans. In the third stanza, the poet refers to Aunt Jennifer’s ‘terrified hands’. The old unhappy memories are still fresh in her mind. She had passed through many testing and horrible times during her married life. These ordeals crushed and suppressed her. Their effect is still visible. So she is still ringed with those ordeals that dominated her life.
Q. What are the ‘ordeals’ Aunt Jennifer is surrounded by? Why is it significant that the poet uses the word ‘ringed’? What are the different meanings of ‘ringed’ in the poem?
Ans. The poem addresses the experience of marriage in the midst of constriction. The word ‘ringed’ is significant. It suggests that the vicious grip or her unhappy married life is still holding her tightly. The word ‘ringed’ has been used in two ways. First is the conventional use. Here ring is a symbol of the sacred bond of marriage. The other is the figurative use of ‘ringed’. It means encircled or surrounded.
Q. 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. The tigers are ‘prancing’. They pace in ‘sleek chivalric certainty’. They ‘do not fear’ the men beneath the tree. Thus they are symbols of strength, fierceness and beauty. Aunt Jennifer, on the other hand, is weak and terrified. Her hands are finding it difficult to pull through her wool. The massive weight of the wedding band sits heavily on her hand. Her terrified hands are still ringed by the ordeal that crushed her during her married life. The contrast heightens the intensity.
Q. Interpret the symbols found in this poem.
Ans. Adrienne Rich’s ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers, is rich in symbolism. ‘The massive weight of wedding band’ symbolises ordeals, hardships and worries of married life. ‘Terrified hands’, and ‘ringed with ordeals’ also indicate those unpleasant experiences that are still clinging to Aunt Jennifer physically and mentally.
Q. Do you sympathise with Aunt Jennifer? What is the attitude of the speaker towards Aunt Jennifer?
Ans. Yes, we do sympathise with Aunt Jennifer. She has experienced hardships and ordeals during her married life. The attitude of the speaker towards Aunt Jennifer is equally sympathetic. The poet gives many suggestive images and symbols to present an old lady who has passed through painful experiences as well as unpleasant and terrifying periods during her married life.