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Mirror by Sylvia Plath

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Lovelynne Magalued

on 12 December 2013

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Transcript of Mirror by Sylvia Plath

by Sylvia Plath
by Caitlyn Moore, Alexi Eich, Kate Culal-lad, & Lovelynne Magalued
Sylvia Plath
-The "a" sound rolls off the reader's tongue easily
>"Each morning it is her fAce that replAces the darkness."
-The repetitions "day after day" and "over and over" resemble the time passing as the woman gets older
-"Mirror" ends with a cacophony, "terrible fish" because it is a harsh, meaningless combination of words
Rhyme Scheme
Sound Devices
Syntax, Diction, & Imagery
Dramatic Situation
-The tone in the first stanza has an almost neutral tone about it.
-It then shifts in the second stanza to a more distressed and mournful one.
-The overall tone is quite serious and very detached.
-The syntax of the poem creates both a semi-calm and semi-agitated/irritated atmosphere at the same time; like calamity and distress are put into one.
-Some phrases that helped create this atmosphere were:
>"silver and exact"
>"unmisted by love or dislike"
>"meditate on the opposite wall"
>"searching my reaches"
>"rewards me with tears and an
agitation of hands"
>"drowned a young girl"
>"rises towards her"
-Plath's diction is not grandiose
in any way. The poem was easy
to read and may even be
targeted towards an audience
of young girls and women
because of this.
-There is no systematic rhyme scheme.
-The first twelve lines consist of a variation of short and long sentences but there is one paired rhyme, "part of my heart" emphasizing the importance of the wall
to the mirror
-Sylvia Plath was born on October 27th, 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts
-Her parents met in college; her mother was the student of her father
-She was 8 when her father passed away and his death drastically defined her relationships and poems
-She was enrolled in Smith College in 1950 and, despite a deep depression she went through in 1953 and a subsequent suicide attempt, she graduated summa cum laude in 1955
-She married Ted Hughes on June 16th, 1956
-She had two children in 1960 and 1962 named Freida and Nicholas
-In 1962, Hughes left Plath for another woman
-On February 11th, 1963, during one of England's worst winters on record, Plath wrote a note to her downstairs neighbor to call the doctor, then committed suicide using her gas oven
I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever you see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful---
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.
-In the first stanza, the mirror, from the side we see
of it, is explaining how true it is to reality and it is contemplating
its place in the room. It thinks the person looking into it might be a part of itself (as we do about our reflections) but things are always changing. In the second stanza, the mirror, from the side we don't see, is watching as each day a woman looks into it as though it is lying to her when the lake side of the mirror knows that the candles and the moon are the liars. The lake side is "rewarded" for it's honesty by tears because the woman doesn't want to believe that the mirror holds the truth. Each day the woman looks into the mirror and realizes that she is getting older and she dreads it.
-The mirror is like a god that is always truthful, and it feels like it is a part of us because it is our reflection. Just as we feel our reflection truly is a part of us.
But the other side of the mirror feels like it is
simply showing us the truth and that it is under appreciated by this woman who cries because she
doesn't want to face it. She seems to dread
growing old and she can be simply
described as vain.
Scanning the Poem
-The poem has a total of 18 lines
-There are also three long lines spread out throughout the stanza contributing to the melody, so in total there are 6 long sentences
>lines 2,6,9,11,14,17
-The poem is a free verse poem because it does not have a specific rhyme scheme or meter
-Rhythm is the key to the effectiveness of
this poem
-The end-stopped lines, the mix and spacing
of the short sentences with the occasional longer sentences or phrases add to the easy flow of the poem
Figurative Devices
Figurative Devices
>Reality: The mirror and lake remind individuals of time because as people grow, they show signs of aging through the appearances of wrinkles, eye bags, and so forth.

>Truth: The mirror and the lake symbolize truth because it reflects images as they are. They do not alter people’s reflection and display the imperfections of an individual’s physical appearance.
>Narcissus: The second stanza
alludes to Narcissus because both
are attracted to the lake since
it presents their beauty.

Figurative Devices (cont.)
-The poem is very big on visual imagery which portrays
the concept of vanity and the absorption of one's appearance.
-The mirror's reflections are always truthful and, in a sense, pure.
>"I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions."
-It's as if the light from a little god's eye of truth is shining on you when you look in the mirror.
>"The eye of a little god, four-cornered."
-The woman realized that her beauty was fading and therefore began to weep.
>"She rewarded me with tears and an agitation of hands."
-Her youthful appearance has "drowned" or gone into the
depths of the lake and now appeared the face of the old
woman, who has aged as time passed.
>"In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old
woman / Rises toward her day after day, like a
terrible fish."
Syntax, Diction, &
Imagery (cont.)
-"Mirror" is about the importance of image within our
society which has become based on youthfulness, beauty,
and gender-roles. It is about how women have come to view
themselves; feeling as if they need to conform to what society
defines as beautiful.
-It isn't all about accepting what we look like, it is about defining beauty in our own way, with our own perspective.
-The mirror thought that it was so important to her, but it was only as important as the woman made it to be when ever she looked into it.
-We can either use mirrors and reflections to see our beauty or, like the woman in the poem, as a way to view ourselves negatively.
-The words "beautiful" and "beauty" may have definitions, but they do not define who we are individually.

-The poem makes us question:
>"What is beauty? Who has the right to define it?"
>"What are we searching for whenever we look in the mirror?"
>"Why are we so hard on ourselves to please others?"
>"Is anything but society's definition of beauty
considered taboo?"
>"But in the end, who are we striving to
please, society or ourselves?"
>Snow White: The mirror from the
poem and the movie are both honest. Also, just like the stepmother in Snow White who uses the mirror to assure herself of her beauty, the woman returns to the
lake every day in
order to reassure
herself of her youth
and attractive
appearance. However,
aging is inevitable
and both become
a victim of time.
-The use of personification magnifies the idea that our preconception of beauty originated from our thoughts and surroundings. The purpose of the mirror is to reflect what we see ourselves as and it remains unchanged. The only thing that changes overtime is our appearances and opinions of beauty.
>“Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.” (Line 12)
>“Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.” (Line 6)
>“I am not cruel, only truthful---“ (Line 4)

_The metaphor of the poem is mainly associated with the notion that individuals cannot escape time and aging. Moreover, it reveals the woman and society’s hatred for aging. Also, by comparing herself to a lake, the speaker suggests that not only is the woman looking at the mirror in search for her beauty, she may also be searching the waters for her identity.
>“In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
>"Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.” (Line 17 and 18)

-Metonymy implies that the eye of the mirror is as righteous and truthful as God although it is only a mere object. In addition, the author uses the metonymy to display how it has been idolized because it is an individual's way to boost or deflate one's self-esteem.
>“The eye of a little god, four-cornered.” (Line 5)

-Simile has been used once and it occurs at the end of the poem. As the woman repeatedly views herself in the lake, she notices that her youthfulness is fading and is being replaced with maturity. By arising at the end, it emphasizes the woman’s negative view of herself as she aged.
>“Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.” (Line 18)
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