Free Essay

Sylvia Plath’s Mirror: a Reflection


Submitted By mistywllms
Words 668
Pages 3
Sylvia Plath’s Mirror: A Reflection
Misty Williams
ENG125 Introduction to Literature
Instructor Stephen Rogers
July 22, 2013

I was drawn to Sylvia Plath’s poem Mirror because of her use of figurative language. I am also drawn to her dark style of writing. Personification, symbolism and metaphors used were key elements in attracting my attention. The personification of the mirror gives the point of view of an impartial bystander observing a woman as she struggles with her changing image and self-esteem. The simile is used to show a woman who is unable to accept who she really is. The use of metaphor explains how something as small as a mirror can have much control over how we view ourselves. Personification occurs when inanimate objects, animals or ideas are assigned human characteristics. In the first four lines the mirror is given human traits with the use of the word
“I”, “Whatever I see, I swallow…” gives the ability to see and swallow, and “I am not cruel, only truthful” gives the mirror a sense of truth and honesty. (As cited by Clugston, 2010, 12.2) The use of personification brings into effect past, present and future. This different perspective allowed me to “see” what the mirror sees and not get involved in the emotions of the woman and how she views herself. The mirror and reflection are metaphors representing the exact truth. The mirror is "unmisted" by prejudice human "preconceptions" and reveals "only" the "truthful" viewpoints of the world right in front of it. The use of metaphor can also be found in the second stanza. “The eye of a little god, four cornered” (as cited by Clugston, 2010, section 12.2, line 5). The mirror associates itself with gods who are omniscient. A mirror is a small thing yet has a powerful and dominant hold on our lives. The reflection we see affects our confidence and attitude. In line 10 the mirror changes to a lake. “The woman bends over me. Searching my reaches for what she really is” (as cited by Clugston, 2010, section 12.2, lines 10-11). The woman is not happy with whom she sees or she cannot accept who she really is. The mirror calls the candles and the moon liars meaning they do not reflect her true self. The candles and moon soften her appearance in their reflection. In lines 13 and 14 we are shown how upset the woman is with her reflection and how important the mirror feels. The mirror knows no matter how unhappy the woman is she will always return for another glimpse of herself.
The last stanza brings the use of simile. “In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish” (As cited by Clugston, 2010, section 12.2, lines 15-18). The mirror has seen the woman age from a young girl to an old woman. The mirror sees the woman every morning as she looks with hope and despair. The reference to a fish is confusing. How does a fish relate to human reflection? As explained by Donna Richardson in her article Plath’s Mirror, the fish is a reflection of horrors within her. “A fish face is not only representative of physical ugliness in the woman’s appearance. The staring eyes and open mouth natural to a fish’s face convey, as a reflection of a human face, the woman’s moral state. The woman cannot close her eyes to what she is becoming.” Personification, metaphor and simile played a large role in holding my attention throughout the reading of this poem. I found it to be a sad and reflective piece indicative of the way women too often view themselves of being old and worthless.

Clugston, R.W. (2010). Journey into Literature, Section 12.2. Retrieved from
Richardson, D. (1991). Plath's mirror. The Explicator, 49(3), 193. Retrieved from

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

A Reflection in Sylvia Plath's Mirror

...A Reflection in Sylvia Plath’s Mirror Amanda L. Wilson Eng:125 Introduction to Literature Professor Lyndsey Lefebvre November 18, 2013 A Reflection in Sylvia Plath’s Mirror Sylvia Plath’s poem Mirror (1963) is evocative, provocative, and expressive. According to Clugston (2010) these are important components of poetry. Sylvia Plath’s first line is a projection of the mirror providing its introduction saying, “I am silver and exact”(Plath, 1963, line 1). The mirror is the protagonist who performs a dramatic monologue about the reflections it observes throughout the days and years of its life. The mirror’s identity awakens the reader to the identity of the woman which it sees, but the mirror not only sees the woman, it becomes her. William Freedman (1993) writes, in The Monster in Plath’s “Mirror”: The woman becomes a narrating reflector of herself as mirror and of whatever passes before it. She becomes the writer who writes of the mirror in which she perceives herself and of the mirror she is (pg 156). Plath develops the character of the mirror, and the woman this mirror observes, through the personification of the mirror. Plath’s Mirror, maneuvers through figurative language, free verse form, personification, and metaphor. The primary language of Mirror is figurative. Figurative language is defined by Clugston (2010) as “the use of words in ways they are not normally used in order to create a distinct imaginative effect or impression” (10.3). “I am silver...

Words: 1006 - Pages: 5

Free Essay


...Mirror 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...

Words: 889 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Sylvia Plath Research Paper

...Sylvia Plath and Her Poetry Sylvia Plath was a short story writer and poet who was mostly known for her collections of poetry. Plath is considered the emancipator of “confessional poetry”: poetry that focuses around personal trauma (“A Brief Guide to Confessional Poetry”). In her lifetime, she wrote many poems that were gathered together into seven collections; only one of them published before she committed suicide in 1963. It was very obvious that the struggles in Plath’s life such as the passing of her father, her severe depression, and a vicious divorce, heavily influenced her poetry (Mays). Plath was born in Boston, Massachusetts on October 27th, 1932. Her mother was a student at Boston University and her father was a German immigrant...

Words: 1194 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

The Confessional Poet, Sylvia Plath

...Anita Stanford Searle English 102 Spring 2014 June 1, 2014 Paper 5 The Confessional Poet, Sylva Plath Sylva Plath was a pioneer who never got to see the results of her writings. She led a tormented life which was reflected in all her poems. She lost her father at age eight and never recovered from it. From the first to last of her published writings, Sylvia Plath what was later to be named as a confessional poet. This term did not exist while she was alive. Although she died at an early age, she has contributed much to the literary world. She had many confessional themes in her pieces. The main theme was resentment. The reading audience of her time was not a great change in which we looked at literature in a different light. No longer did it have to be fluff but literature could take a stance on current events or personal tragedies. People began to relate on a more intimate level. This sparked a new interest in literature. We will see how the term confessional poet relates to Sylvia Plath and how it applies to her poetry. A confessional poet by definition is a poet whose work lies in their own personal experiences. Sylvia used her life experiences to no so much relay her resentments about many of the injustices she felt in her life. She did not lay blame just expressed her emotions and opinions about certain times in her life. During the 1960’s, she was the first to do this and was not widely received at first. It was not until after her death that she was recognized for...

Words: 1370 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Age And Immortality In Ozymandias

...scandalous. In Robert Herrick’s “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”, the speaker beseeches his audience (the virgins) to “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may;/ Old Time is still a-flying” (1-2) to persuade them to focus less on protecting their virtue and take advantage of their youthful beauty while it lasts because it will not remain forever, as age and time ruin everything that was once beautiful and good. Women are especially subject to the negative effects of aging as society places a severe importance on the appearance of beauty and youthful innocence. In Sylvia Plath’s “Mirror”, a poem from the truthful, unbiased perspective of a mirror, there is a woman who is unhappy with her reflection and the changes of age she sees staring back at her. The mirror states that “in me, [the woman] has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman/rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish ” (17-18). Plath uses the mirror to highlight the inescapable truth and unavoidable awfulness of growing old, something all people have to do, whether they desire it or not. As all people are subject to aging, the pursuit of immortality is never-ending, and there are several ways people attempt to achieve it. Whether it is relying on the family name or the great power of the kingdom, people always try to find a way to conquer death and live for generations to come. However, age, in the end, is the killer of all men. The passage of time will eventually erase everything and everyone familiar,...

Words: 851 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

The Bell Jar Essay

...Explore in which literature reflects societal values. Use any of the texts to demonstrate your ideas. It is widely acknowledged that literature mirrors society and encompasses both positive and negative values. In order for society to realise their mistake and therefore make amends, literature will mirror ill morals. Furthermore, in order for people to emulate and embrace good values and virtues are also projected. It can be said that literature is an imitation of humanistic character, representing the thoughts and behaviours of people in society. By incorporating Sylvia Plath’s novel ‘The Bell Jar’, societal values such as relationships, identity and stereotypes are the predominant ideas. Literature can be considered as a mirror image of...

Words: 767 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Larkin and Plath

...Alita Fonseca Balbi “The Less Deceived”: Subjectivity, Gender, Sex and Love in Sylvia Plath's and Philip Larkin's Poetry Belo Horizonte Faculdade de Letras Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais 2012 i “The Less Deceived”: Subjectivity, Gender, Sex and Love in Sylvia Plath's and Philip Larkin's Poetry by Alita Fonseca Balbi Submitted to the Programa de Pós-graduação em Letras: Estudos Literários in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Mestre em Literaturas de Expressão Inglesa. Thesis Advisor: Sandra Regina Goulart Almeida, PhD Belo Horizonte Faculdade de Letras Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais 2012 ii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS To my father, Tadeu, for always reminding me of the importance of having dreams and being true to them; for motivating me to be creative and to believe in my potential; and for teaching me to seek beauty and happiness in everything I see and do. To my mother, Socorro, for always making sure I enjoy all the possibilities that cross my path, and for reminding me that hard work is the only means to achieve my goals. To my brothers, Bruno and Diego, for being my best friends. To my sister-in-law, Sabrina, for embracing me as family and making me feel at home even when I’m not. To Paulo, for his company, for his love and care, and for all his witty remarks. To the professors of Letras, Julio Jeha, José dos Santos, Eliana Lourenço and Gláucia Renates, for being extraordinary professors, and for all the knowledge each...

Words: 44492 - Pages: 178

Premium Essay

Prose Fiction

...SECOND DRAFT Contents Preamble Chapter 1 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Background Rationale Aims Interface with the Junior Secondary Curriculum Principles of Curriculum Design Chapter 2 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 1 Introduction Literature in English Curriculum Framework Strands and Learning Targets Learning Objectives Generic Skills Values and Attitudes Broad Learning Outcomes Chapter 3 5 7 9 10 11 11 13 Curriculum Planning 3.1 Planning a Balanced and Flexible Curriculum 3.2 Central Curriculum and School-based Curriculum Development 3.2.1 Integrating Classroom Learning and Independent Learning 3.2.2 Maximizing Learning Opportunities 3.2.3 Cross-curricular Planning 3.2.4 Building a Learning Community through Flexible Class Organization 3.3 Collaboration within the English Language Education KLA and Cross KLA Links 3.4 Time Allocation 3.5 Progression of Studies 3.6 Managing the Curriculum – Role of Curriculum Leaders Chapter 4 1 2 2 3 3 13 14 14 15 15 16 16 17 17 18 21 Learning and Teaching 4.1 Approaches to Learning and Teaching 4.1.1 Introductory Comments 4.1.2 Prose Fiction 4.1.3 Poetry i 21 21 23 32 SECOND DRAFT 4.1.4 Drama 4.1.5 Films 4.1.6 Literary Appreciation 4.1.7 Schools of Literary Criticism 4.2 Catering for Learner Diversity 4.3 Meaningful Homework 4.4 Role of Learners Chapter 5 41 45 52 69 71 72 73 74 Assessment 5.1 Guiding Principles 5.2 Internal Assessment 5.2.1 Formative Assessment 5.2.2 Summative Assessment 5.3 Public Assessment 5.3.1 Standards-referenced...

Words: 41988 - Pages: 168