Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mirror by Sylvia Plath

The poetess, Sylvia Plath, by making the mirror speak in the poem, ‘Mirror’, gives it life and uses it to explore the theme of change, decay, old age and death.

Lines 1 to 3: The mirror makes factual statements that it is made of silver and is precise in its job of reflection. It has no preconceived notions or ideas and so whatever appears before it, it takes in (swallows) immediately just as each thing is and reflects it back without distortion (unmisted), without being influenced by emotions, prejudices or ideas of love and hate.

Lines 4, 5: But it has no intention of being cruel. It wants to be truthful. It compares itself to the eyes of a little god having four corners as it can see and reflect everything in front of it.

Lines 6 to 10: Most of the time it reflects the pink worn out wall opposite it so much so that the wall has become a part of its personality. But its reflection of the opposite wall is broken (flickers) over and over again by faces that come to look into it and by darkness or night.

Lines 10, 11: The mirror compares itself to a lake. A lake is deep and when it reflects back a person, it seems to reflect him from its depth. So when a person looks into the mirror, it not only reflects back his physical appearance but through it, it reflects the depth of his self. A woman bends over the mirror (the lake) searching deep into the mirror to find out what she really is.

Lines 12 to 14: Dissatisfied with what she sees, she turns to the moonlight and the candles for consolation whom the mirror calls ‘liars’ as their dim light deceives by concealing her defects and her age. But the mirror continues to reflect her back faithfully the way she is. The woman bursts into tears and restlessly moves her hand as she realises she is aging and losing her beauty from the mirror’s reflection.

Lines 15,16: In spite of reflecting her truthfully, she considers the mirror important to keep checking herself. She visits it regularly especially in the morning.

Lines 17, 18: The woman has been looking into the mirror from the time she was a young girl. She seems to have drowned her youth in the mirror which compares itself to a lake. The mirror stands for the passage of time. The present reflection of the woman is compared to a terrible fish rising from the depths of the lake. It is a terrible fish because it reflects her old age and loss of beauty and is a reminder to her the old age and death are creeping closer towards her day by day.

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11 comments:

Harsh said...

Thanks,it helped me understand the poem more easily! Keep up the good work :)

DreamFlyer said...

Nice explanation. I appreciate it.

nitin said...

Thanx a lot . it really helped me to understand it ..

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semarphone said...

Poetry is the language of the heart, I love the beauty of your poetry, talking about the beauty i think sharing is one of them;
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Somerset Wedding Gal said...

Great breakdown, I feel like I don't even need to read the poem now (although of course I will)

Jatinder Singh said...

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Anonymous said...

Thank you

Lahari Mahalanabish said...

A very useful blog! I am a poet but since I am not a student of literature, sometimes I am not able to understand the meaning of certain poems. Now I can refer to this blog whenever I am in such a situation.

Samia hussain said...

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