Rich woman usually conformed to gender roles

Rich Adrienne’s poem ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’ is a representation of a repressed if not oppressed women in society. The poem was probably written at a time when woman usually conformed to gender roles given by traditional societal values. The wives looked after the house and family while the husband worked. The women had less opportunities than men. They were stuck the traditional wife status at that time by being bounded to the house. One of the main themes is that loss and an undefined sense of self leads to unhappiness. The message is that traditional roles are constraintive which doesn’t allow for individuals to achieve self-actualization. It prevents them from reaching their fullest potential. The poem conveys the idea that marriage removes the courage and independence  that is represented by the lively tiger. The fragility and strength has been robbed due to the conformity. The resulting pain becomes more intense as the poem progresses. Throughout the poem there is a push and pull effect between accepting certain roles and wanting to for the expression of individuality. Gunn Thomas’s ‘The Missing’ compares times of beauty and chaos. Progress of the plague brings horror, represented by the unfinished and disjointed statue. Both characters struggle with escape by wanting to achieve and confirm to an identity.  Wanting to escape from a stagnant world and devastating time.  Through the use of imagery the poem captures intense feelings such as loss, anguish, and confidence. In order to convey the confused state and limited hope that each character faces. The death of individuals and loss of identity leads to emptiness which is contrasted by fleeting moments of freedom and happiness.Both poems are similar in how it conveys a sense of confusion of identity. In Aunt Jennifer’s Tiger many images creates a picture of bleakness that she cannot escape from. Her loss of self makes her struggle with what she stands for. A lack of clarity oppose to the ‘topaz denizens’, creating an image of beauty and certainty (Rich 2). The ‘massive weight’ symbolizes how weak and conflicted she feels (Rich 7). The image of the ring around her finger represents her inability to escape from her suppressive world. The daily struggle for individuality. The suppressed desire for more freedom and expression was represented by the playful tigers. The ‘prancing’ tigers was everything that she was not (Rich 7). She was controlled by her marriage, conforming to her role that made her feel a great deal of burden. In contrast to a tiger that is lively and fearless. Tigers are mysterious creatures that venture and roam into the unknown. Unlike Aunt Jennifer’s predictable world. ‘The Missing’ evokes similar emotions and images when compared to the other poem. ‘Drop away’ represents how the speaker is losing hope (Gunn 3). Each friend that the individual loses creates emptiness. The poem leaves the individual feeling ‘Abandoned’ (Gunn 25). It evokes a sense of a crumbling world represented by the incomplete statue.  The individual’s identity has taken a toll similar to ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tiger’. The identity has been destroyed or damaged due to external forces. The poem suggests that the individual has had less opportunities in life due to the constraint of marriage. In the ‘Missing’ tragedy comes from the deaths of friends. Death is an inescapable force that surrounds the speaker.  Adrienne’s poem represents how the character has to conform to an identity. The character of ‘The Missing’  has lost a piece of their identity.Moments of happiness are evident throughout both poems. Adrienne uses  ‘prance’ to express pride, freedom, and confidence contrary to her current situation (Adrienne 1). She uses art as a way to escape symbolizing the desire to wanting to do more. The prancing tigers are an opposing image to Aunt Jennifer’s situation. She is not independent but immobile instead. She lives in an unchallenged world. There is no progression for her. She was unable to embrace a lot of personal opportunities to learn and grow. The desire for creativity has been crushed. The tiger does not reject but  embrace the unknown by being ‘Unafraid’ (Rich 12). This shifts the mood and leaves an image of bravery like ‘sleek chivalric certainty’ (Rich 4). In the other poem ‘aggressive as in some ideal of sport’ creates an image of relentless creativity and freedom’ (Gunn 14).  The individual feels ‘unconfined’ establishing a hero like figure who can take on the world (Gunn 19). An individual that explores the world to chase down for opportunities. Gunn Thomas’s ‘The Missing’ has a sharp contrast in mood from confronting death to the joys of freedom. ‘Unlimited embrace’ does not lead to emptiness, instead creates fulfillment (Gunn 12). Instead the speaker feels happiness by being comfortable with who they are and feeling connected to others (Gunn 12). They were embracing or ‘entwinement’  of one another similar identity (Gunn 10). The speaker thrived through by ‘ceaseless movement’ before the plague (Gunn 15). At a time when the person felt closer than ever towards the people around the person.  There is a transition period from uncertainty to moments of freedom for the character. The characters in both poems feel confidence represented by images of  a  tiger and entwinement. In ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tiger’ it is everything that she wants to be. ‘The Missing’ reveals that the character yearns for what he had before the plague; a thriving community. Those times of uncertainty and grief causes emptiness. Gunn Thomas’s ‘The Missing’ the loss of individuals overshadowed the moments of happiness. The statue and plague leads to the destruction of identity. Within the character’s community people are lost. The person’s identity is fragmented into missing pieces causing  the character feel ‘less defined’ (Gunn 17). The ‘plague’ has cause the person to lose many people close to him which will inevitably cause emptiness (Gunn 1). The plague results in coldness by the ‘statues chill contour’ (Gunn 5). The statue is unfinished and leaves a feeling of dread.  It triggers emotions of a deeply disjointed individual. The statute creates an image of a volatile and troubling situation. The individual is devastated internally. Also they ‘drop away’ creating a feeling of hopelessness (Gunn 3). The usual bridge of support from the character’s friends has collapsed. The safe and caring environment has vanished causing him to feel ‘unsupported’ (Gunn 20). The character does not have the ability to escape the tragedy, death is everywhere. Shock and horror are constant; ‘Shines perfect and no calves’ (Gunn 23) There is no action that can be taken, creating an image of a bleak future. The character is struggling to rebuild his identity through the use of imagery. The person is broken from within. The plague has brought weakness similar to how the character in ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers’ is trapped due to the conformity for the roles created by society.Both poems point out the connection between struggle and freedom. The struggle to feel contentment by developing and establishing an identity. Rich Adrienne’s ‘Aunt Jennifer’s Tiger’ the fight for independence has been severely suppressed due to societal expectations. The character does not have the ability to escape due to the symbolic weight of the uncle’s wedding band. The growth of her individuality is also severely weakened by the marriage. The character is unable to push the limits for personal growth. The ring represents her unhappiness and lasting internal pain. Her role is restricting her from the life she would like to lead like the image created by the prancing tigers. The terror from the marriage is long lasting even after her death. Her hands were ‘still ringed’ (Rich 10). Gunn Thomas’s ‘The Missing’ suggests that trauma is devastating. Once that feeling or expressing happiness is impossible. The death of close ones would cause struggle in anybody’s everyday life. The character relied on them for motivation and support . But now the character is alone and lacks wholeness that has prevented the person from living a normal life. There is no positivity or slivers of hope around the individual; only death. The intense images of darkness has lead the character to an unpreventable mindset of emptiness. The individual is not able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. All of the happiness in the character’s life has disappeared. The fleeting moments of freedom and happiness is from having a strong sense of self and community.


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