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In: English and Literature

Submitted By rsledge22
Words 889
Pages 4
Rosalind Sledge
ENG 125: Introduction to Literature
Instructor Michelle Pinkard
November 5, 2012

Mirror by Sylvia Plath is a poem that focuses on the purpose and existence of a mirror. The mirror is showed to be the speaker of the poem by in the beginning, describing itself and explaining its character as though it is human. One is able to feel emotion by understanding the important qualities it possesses. The mirror also metaphors itself as a lake and tells the important relationship it has with a woman. Women are drawn to mirrors searching for beauty but are often disappointed and turn their backs looking elsewhere. The mirror represents truth and is not intended to hurt or be cruel. This poem is very engaging by way of point of view, language, and imagery which helped to address a common human experience in how a woman sees herself. The point of view in a piece of literature work is very important in that it helps a reader to understand the narrator’s purpose of the story. The poem Mirror is told from a first person’s point of view in which the speaker is a mirror explaining what it reflects. In the first stanza, it states, “I have no preconceptions / Whatever I see, I swallow immediately / Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike” (cited in Clugston, 2010, Poems for Reflection, para. 13). By knowing the thoughts of the narrator, it allows a person to not only understand but to also feel the emotions portrayed within the story. While reading the poem, one is able to know the intentions of the mirror. Its purpose is not to hurt someone, but to only be truthful in what it sees. It does not have feelings of love or dislikes, but reflects the image of what’s drawn in. When considering point of view, language is also expressed. The language of literature is shown by the use of words chosen by the author. Sylvia Plath used metaphors throughout this poem. She compared the mirror as to being a little god with four corners. “By calling itself the eye of a little god, the mirror, already implicitly other than it is, confesses its own otherness” (Freedman, 1987, p. 61). By comparing the mirror to a little god, it shows the mirror having powers while not being judgmental but yet revealing truth. The mirror is also compared to a lake. The water of a lake reflects images swept across it. The lake shows that truth can come in different forms regardless of how a woman tries to escape it. One’s reflection can be seen off different types of transparent surfaces, and a person reaction depends on how he/she sees themselves. In addition, imagery plays a big part in being connected to a piece of literature. It helps one to visualize the environment or atmosphere of the piece of work. Mirror contains many images that capture one’s imagination. In the first stanza, the mirror tells of how it mediates on a pink speckled wall that seems to be its heart, but flickers by faces and darkness separating them. This image makes one think as though the mirror is human. The mirror expresses a feeling of separation when it is in the dark and blocked by faces not being able to connect to its heart. In the second stanza, the image of a young girl being drowned and an old woman arising like a terrible fish portrays an issue of appearance. “Many readers plausibly connect the scaly skin of a fish with the unappealing appearance of aged human skin. But a large number of them less-plausibly envision the fish as a dead fish floating to the surface, representing the death of the woman's youth (the drowned girl) and the literal death that the woman eventually will encounter” (Richardson, 1991, para. 3). This image may be interpreted in different ways, but the reality is that the woman sees herself as terrifying. She has lost her youth and is having a hard time accepting the fact that she is getting older. That is why she turns her back and looks towards the candlelight and moon to get a different perspective. A lot of women in today’s society think of themselves in terms of their appearance; they struggle with the concept of age and take necessary steps to keep their youth. In conclusion, the Mirror is a poem based off truth and how a person sees themselves. One must face the truth and accept one’s self regardless of appearance. One will deprive themselves of true happiness by focusing on what is not. The point of view, language, and imagery within the poem helped to address the common human experience that a lot of women struggle with today. In reality, the mirror holds no power and is honest only to an extent of what a person looking into it allows it to be. It is simply a tool.

Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into Literature. Retrieved from
Freedman, W. (1987). Sylvia Plath’s ‘Mirror’ of Mirrors. Papers on Language and Literature: A Journal for Scholars and Critics of Language and Literature, 23(1), 56-69. Retrieved from
Richardson, D. (1991). Plath’s ‘Mirror’. Explicator, 49(3), 193-195. Retrieved from

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