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Rich Essay, Research Paper

Imaginative Transformation

Adrienne Rich writes, For a poem to coalesce, for a character or an action to take shape, there has to be an imaginative transformation of reality which is no way passive (610). Imaginative transformation means to be able to look at something from different perspectives, what might seem black to one might be white to the another. Imaginative transformation allows one to express themselves freely through their imagination and question the way things are. It allows one to have their own opinion on things and not be wrong. It is important for an author to this because it allows her to write freely on any topic and allows the reader to interpret it anyway they like. In Rich s case, she writes about how women need to break from the enduring attitudes and views of traditions in which society has placed upon them.

In Aunt Jennifer s Tiger , Rich writes a poem about a woman who does not break from the accepted roles of society. The character, Aunt Jennifer, uses imaginative transformation in order to free herself from her life. In this poem Rich s tone is very powerful, she makes it clear that she does not want to live a life like Aunt Jennifer s. In this poem Rich portrays how someone s life can be like when one accepts the established beliefs conformed by society. Through Aunt Jennifer, Rich tells the story of an unhappy marriage and woman with no respect from society. The author writes about the universal issues of the relationship between man and woman. Rich is upset with the limitations placed on women in society, particularly in marriage. Jennifer s life shows the negative consequences of what will happen to a person if they do not break from society.

Aunt Jennifer is a woman who does not have the freedom to live for herself because of society s expectations. As a result, she is force to express her true identity by knitting. Jennifer acts out who she is or wants to be through her quilting. The screen in line one is a barrier separating her dreams from reality, it could also be symbolic to her husband, as the screen is a barrier keeping her from what she wants just like her husband. Aunt Jennifer portrays the life she could have through the images on the screen. Rich uses the screen to allude to Aunt Jennifer s miserable, pathetic life and by creating these images Jennifer is able to escape to an alternate reality where she is no longer threatened. In essence, she is able to cross a screen between reality and a fantasy world. Aunt Jennifer suffers for not living the life she obviously desires and dreams about.

Aunt Jennifer can not escape in her real life because of the massive weight of Uncle s wedding band ; she is pinned down the band sits heavily in her hand . The image of the wedding band brings forth a feeling of slavery and fear. The image of her hand lying still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by suggests that she cannot escape her problems. Though she feels timid and controlled she can create the tigers, which express the qualities she wishes to have but never can which are bravery and freedom; prancing in sleek chivalry and they do not fear . In this act she is creating something greater than herself because it will be eternal and will still exist after she is gone.

In Rich s writing structure she contains the real life within the fantasy life. The first stanza of the poem is about the proud tigers. The second stanza is about terrified Aunt Jennifer. The third stanza refers to the continuation of the second stanza, and then to the tigers. In this way, by starting the poem with the tigers and ending with the tigers, Rich is containing the real life within the fantasy life, in reverse of Aunt Jennifer, whose inner life is contained within her outer life. In this poem Rich portrays what can happen to an individual who accepts the fate prescribed by customs. If one considers that this could have been written during a time of social unrest and change, the overall message of this poem is that men suppress women. However, this poem demonstrates that even in their suppression women can still create worthwhile things and imagine what they can do if they had their freedom.


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