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Shvoong Home>Books>Poetry>"Mirror" Review

"Mirror"

Book Review   by:Smichelson     Original Author: Sylvia Plath
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The poem “Mirror,” by Sylvia Plath is an honest piece of literature. The poem takes an inanimate object and gives it not only life, but emotions and feelings. The title of the poem is “Mirror,” as you take a deeper look into the meaning you can find it indirectly illustrates emotions of a disheartened woman. The most obvious thematic idea found in this poem is truth. Sylvia Plath enhances the thematic meaning through the usage of several poetic devices. The poem incorporates many thoughts difficult to identify after reading only once. When I read it a few more times the mirror and the lady took on a deeper meaning. Sylvia Plath uses poetic devices in order to truly express her thoughts. One poetic device used is personification. Personification is a poetic device which gives animals, ideas, or inanimate objects human traits or abilities. The poem gives this mirror, traits which define what it is to be human. At the same time unlike humans the mirror does not judge the lady. That is the beauty of personification; though the mirror is given human traits it is not fully human. Humans are dishonest and opinionated; the mirror is truthful and only reflects the truth. In the poem the mirror is referred to in the first person. “I am not cruel, only truthful.” In this line Sylvia suggest that a mirror unlike other things in life depict an honest and straightforward image of oneself. It is interesting because there is so much truth to that line. Although some mirrors can change an image’s appearance. The mirror which is referred to in the poem is a normal mirror reflecting only what is put in front of it. Evidently this mirror does not contradict or alter the image in any way making it “Only truthful.” As the poem progresses other characteristics are given to the mirror that allow this imamate object to be compared to other humans. A simile is a poetic device that makes a comparison between two objects using a specific word such as "like", "as", or "than". The first stanza is filled with personification giving the mirror the ability to interact with the lady. The second stanza incorporates this lady into the poem, the words slowly produce the message the poem is attempting to provide. As the message is being developed the theme is ultimately tied together with a simile in the last line of the poem. The last line of the poem is as followed, “Rises towards her day after day, like a terrible fish.” This is a comparison of the lady and a terrible fish, the word ‘like’ makes this comparison a simile. The line is taken out of context and may seem irrelevant to the lady or her mirror.
This may be apparent, but the reality is quite on the contrary. The theme of this poem is truth, and how this lady is scared to except the truth which she sees in her reflection. Hints of some sort of lost love are evident in lines like, “Unmisted by love or dislike…” The poem also suggest the lady has encountered people who have hurt her, one line says “She turns to those liars, the candles or the moon…” I interpreted this line in that candles and the moon often give off bad lighting. They can hurt your appearance and make you look unattractive. The poem is saying that the lady ‘turns to those liars,’ in other words she believes the bad things people say about her. In her mind it hurts her confidence similar to how bad lighting hurts one’s appearance. With low confidence ‘day after day’ she looks at her reflection. I feel like she is scared and does not have the confidence to go out there and try to find love. This may be due to a past relationship that may have not worked out. So she turns to this mirror as the only way to see who she truly is. The mirror in her eyes acts as a significant other in that one can see themselves through somebody they love, some what similar to seeing themselves in a reflection. The fact that she only sees herself through this mirror is bad because it does not show her anything besides what is on the outside. Love is an emotion which allows people to express their inner beauty; a mirror can only express outer beauty. I think time goes on and she gives up on love and begins to grow old. Instead of growing old with someone you love who can comfort you and remind you of your inner beauty, she grows old with only a reflection showing nothing but physical features. She gets older and eventually is ugly on the outside, since she cannot express inner beauty all she has is this reflection of an old face. She has no other way to see herself because when you are alone you can only use a mirror and like I said before a mirror only express the outer beauty the thing that is not important. This lady does not realize that and this unimportant beauty, or ugliness is all she has left.
Published: April 17, 2006   
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  1. 2. Smichelson

    Anne

    The mirror in its simplest form reflects what is put in front of it. As a person grows old the mirror will inevitably and unavoidably reflect this process. At the surface when the personification of the mirror is not taken into account; the mirror will reflect the face of the person in front of it.

    1 Rating Thursday, June 27, 2013
  2. 1. Anne

    the mirror

    It has a vivid explanation but I would like to know an apt answer for the question 'How does the mirror bring out the inevitability of aging and death?".

    0 Rating Saturday, May 11, 2013
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