Aunt Jennifer's Tigers
Aunt Jennifer's tigers prance across a screen,
A note: I stopped teaching CBSE 5 years ago and I'm out of touch. So I haven't really worked on the explanations and edited them. You might find some of the explanations not up to the mark especially this poem. You will surely find better explanations on the net. One such site recommended by one of the readers which is really good and tailor made for CBSE is http://englishportal12.blogspot.in/?view=mosaic
In the first stanza, Aunt Jennifer’s situation and character is contrasted with her artistic creation that portrays her aspiration. The tapestry on which she has knitted tigers are very symbolic of what she wants to be in life - fearless, assertive, noble and powerful like the tiger as expressed in the words "They pace in sleek chivalric certainty". The word 'certainty' could portray the self-assuredness of the tiger or the confident bearing of the tiger as it is fearless of life.The tigers depicted as prancing across the screen bring to mind a being that is confident, self-assured and happy; all things that Aunt Jennifer is not. The use of colours implies that Aunt Jennifer's tigers and their land are more vital and enjoy a sense of freedom far greater than her. Yellow (bright topaz) connotes the sun and fierce energy, while green reminds one of spring and rebirth.
In the second stanza, Aunt Jennifer's present state is depicted. Her fingers are "fluttering through her wool" showing both physical and mental weakness. She finds it difficult to pull the needle. "The massive weight of Uncle's wedding band / Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer's hand" reminds us that her marriage responsibilities weigh her down which makes her unable to realize her full potential as a woman in a male-dominated society. She escapes from her difficult situation through art i.e. through knitting.
The final stanza contains imagery that reflects back on the first two stanzas. The reference of the hands symbolizes Aunt Jennifer as a whole. Though her death would free her from her present miserable state, her hands will remain terrified with the wedding ring which binds her to her ordeals that took complete control of her. The only sign of her freedom from her present life is the art work which she escapes into by depicting the prancing, proud and unafraid tigers which is what she really wants to be and which she attains through her imagination.
If you think this explanation has helped you, kindly donate money to the orphanage for girls that my friend runs. You can know about it at https://sites.google.com/site/annaineomianbuillam/