Research studies

Plath’s Mirror a Reflection of her Life


Prepared by the researcher :  Dr. Yahya Saleh Hasan Dahami (Associate Professor) Currently: English Department – Faculty of Science and Arts AL BAHA UNIVERSITY – KSA Previously at Faculty of Languages and Human Sciences, Future University – Sana’a – Yemen

Democratic Arab Center

Journal of cultural linguistic and artistic studies : Nineteenth Issue – June 2021

A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin.

Nationales ISSN-Zentrum für Deutschland
 ISSN  2625-8943

Journal of cultural linguistic and artistic studies

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Sylvia Plath is a very distinguished American poet who lived a famous but depressed life. Plath’s poem Mirror is composed of only eighteen lines; however, it bears many profound connotations reflecting life with both its poetic beauty as well as a reflection of misery in the life of the poet herself. The study is an attempt to shed light on Plath’s thoughts of life with special reference to her short piece of poetry Mirror illuminating Plath’s ingenuity with poetic devices. The paper starts with a brief introduction about the poet herself to be followed by general ideas of the poem, and then the method moves ahead to analytically elucidate the concepts of reality and truth. The next pivotal aspect is Self-Discovering. Subsequently, the paper is concluded by the findings of the study. Moreover, through such examination, the researcher attempts to critically illustrate the genuine usage of poetic devices that Plath used to make the mirror an object reflecting life both metaphorically, symbolically, and/or truly.


Sylvia Plath (1932 1963) was born in Massachusetts to German immigrant and professor Otto Emil Plath, and Aurelia Schober Plath, a past student of him who was twenty-one years. When her age was eight, she experienced a significant influence on poetry. Our poet received an allowance to attend Smith College in 1950, where she studied energetically and determined to accomplish social and academic success. She suffers from reiterated depression that would plague her all through her life. Her life was full of worries, suspicions, fears and anxieties. As a result of high anxiety over success, she joined electroshock therapy. However, the therapy enlarged her anxieties to hide herself in the basement of the house and endeavoring to suicide by having overdosing drugs.

The year 1954 witnessed Plath’s return to college, and her graduation was in 1955, then she received a Fulbright scholarship to study at Newnham College of Cambridge in which she met Ted Hughes, the future husband. When Plath returned to America, she began teaching at Smith in which her career began to ascend. Plath sought to achieve success as a writer. However, she was anxious that her marriage would abolish her desire for writing. She was afraid that her resourceful energies would be directed to the trivial activities of just a house-wife.

The marriage was achieved, and in 1959, Plath and her husband returned to England in which their life there resulted in two children. Just after three years, she learned of her husband’s disloyalties, and the two failed to reunite peacefully; Plath left him and departed with her two children to London. The miscarriage of her marriage led to additional struggles with severe downheartedness, anxieties, and misery, and she committed the crime and sin of murdering herself in 1963. During her life, just a single book of poetry was published. Many of the posthumous publications of the works of Sylvia Plath were edited by Hughes, including The Collected Poems that gained the Pulitzer Prize obtained in 1982.

Mirror was composed two years before Sylvia Plath’s suicide; these two years were among the most fruitful of her literary profession. Her poetry is collected in her most broadly celebrated book Ariel. It is frequently dark and gloomy at times full of anguish and resentment at life and contains vehement portraits and disconcerting metaphors. The piece of poetry defines itself in the mirror by affirming that it is bright as silver, but the most important is that it is exact. It has no previous anticipating conceptions. The poem Mirror is composed of a mirror’s viewpoint, and it presents, at first, what appears to be a light-hearted reflection on the reliable honesty, exactitude, and precision of its reflection. There is a metaphorical similarity about the expression ‘light’ between John Milton and Silvia Plath. This last point is what the researcher analyzes in the third part self-discovering.

The Problem of Research

As a literary study, this study employs the critical, analytical, and descriptive approaches as its tools for assessing the dealings of the study. The paper is divided into three parts. The first part deals with some standpoints on the poem Mirror. The second part deals with the subtitle Reality and Truth in which the researcher attempts to explain these two concepts in light of the poem Mirror as a way to apply the lines of the poem to the actual practice of the poet. It focuses mostly on the relationship between the two diverse concepts. The third part reviews the argument on Self-Discovering.

The merging of approaches is important for understanding. It offers material that would have been obvious for analysis of the textual arrangements. These are significant, chiefly in the case of logical examination, as there is a disposition to focus on several literary and social features of the poem, Mirror. Therefore, this confirms a symbolical study putting in mind concrete metaphors and the unification of images within the lines of the poem. In this context, the critical-analytical method can be appropriate as it reflects how the study will be influenced by both the anticipated social standards and the literary elements.

Furthermore, the study employs the deductive technique, which is used to sufficiently express the scheme that makes up the outcomes obtained through direct comment and reflection to allow logical prediction. Analysis and synthesis are employed to identify the dealings between the poet Sylvia Plath and her poem Mirror, a comparative reflection with life.

  1. About Mirror

Plath wrote Mirror in the early 1960s, a period during which most eminent poems denoted the opening of women’s attempts to accomplish equivalence with men. Plath’s Mirror shows several thematic and stylistic potentials that make the poet one of the best-recognized poets of her time. She says about the importance of her poetry: “I use my poetry as my most serious way of paying attention to the world outside of my own interior struggle. The poems begin as acts of attention and try to allow in whatever is there waiting to make itself heard” (Riggs, 2001, p. 380). Likewise, “In her poem, ‘The Mirror’ Plath expresses her resentment towards the society and its superficial recognition of truth. The poem expresses her existential agony” (Das, n.d.  p. 183).

The poem is not only about mirror image but also a self-reflective manuscript that is; it is a piece of poetry dealing with poetry. The mirror, as the narrator boasts of its devotion to the literal, swiftly changes to metaphor by ‘swallowing’ anything that stands or passes in front of it sees. A metaphor “is a figure of speech that presents an idea via a picture of another object” (Dahami, 2017, p. 115). The poem is itself a metaphor that can be used for the poet or poetry, or even for representational art in common. The claim of neutrality that the mirror boasts repeats an attitude long taken and used by artists appealing to be realistic. The artists do not invent, but they merely mirror what is out there. Consequently, we find that the mirror, as well as the pond, can deny bond and obligation for the pictures and representations they generate.

This piece of poetry is compiled of two stanzas, every stanza comprising nine lines; in this way, the formula of the poem may be seen as a representation of a mirror’s portrait with every stanza reflecting one another. The tone of the mirror, in the first stanza, might be perceived as lively in which the opening lines virtually seem like hints to a child’s puzzle. Nevertheless, there is an intense turn at the commencement of the second stanza, and the last nine lines of the poem, while almost equal in structure to the first stanza, exhibit a far dimmer message.

  1. Reality and Truth

Reality is what this influential poem is placed around. The poem is emotionless, and its limits are unquestionably sharp to the touch. Plath somewhat “used poetry to overcome or reconstruct relationships which in reality caused her pain and confusion” (Roberts, 2003, p. 204). The mirror reflects reality. When someone looks straight to the mirror; he/she gets precisely what is there, and what is seen is a reflex that can never lie. The second line supports and confirms the idea that states ‘Whatever I see I swallow immediately’. A piece of glass has no prejudice or partiality in which it displays the moral and the wicked without hesitation or reluctance; it is straightforward. The mirror can never be cheated by emotions or moods that are not distorted by love or aversion.

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions (Lehman[1], 2006, p. 887).

As a reflection to its title, the first line of the poem Mirror may possibly seem to be evidence to a child’s riddle. The evidence quickly makes it obvious that the first-person pronoun of the poem ‘I’ is the reflection referred to the mirror in the title. In this piece of poetry, the mirror is the storyteller. The concise, chopped wording of this line, accompanied by language including ‘exact’ and ‘no preconceptions’, helps to make the mirror’s persona as direct, honest, and unresponsive. “Generally, the vivid image presented by the poet allows readers and critics to retain formal poetic features as closely as possible by his talented way of applying the language” (Dahami, 2018c). Furthermore, the poetic language “needs to have … a rhythmic speech, which would sound natural and normal speech” (Dahami. 2018b). It is the elegance of the poetic language. “Poetry uses an elevated and preeminent literary language over everyday language; it is not the speech of the tongue only, but it is the language of the heart, mind, feeling, and the sentiment” (Dahami, 2018a); see also Dahami, 2019. Additionally

Plath becomes the mirror and does the work of a mirror. In fact, Plath does not like mirrors because it comes between her and her true self. At several places, she expressed her hatred and dislike towards mirrors as much as towards society. She blamed the Society and its norms and practices coming in the way of her true self. When she has failed to control the above dynamic, she identifies herself with the mirror and feels victorious. In the same poem in the following stanza, she identifies herself with the lake (Das, n.d.  p. 232).

Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike p. 887

In the above second and third lines, the poet presents the first of some surprisingly ferocious pictures, as she depicts the mirror instantly absorbing all it comes into interaction with, regardless of the emotional apprehensions of ‘love and dislike’.

I am not cruel, only truthful— p. 887

Moving to the fourth line, the reader discovers the denial of the mirror’s cruelty. This verse line appears to be based on the usage of the proposition that reality can never be compared with cruelty; it is a proposition that comes under nearer examination and inspection as mentioned in the final lines of the poem. “The mirror has traditionally symbolized mental reflectiveness and truthfulness” (Rahimi, 2015, p. 12).

Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon p. 887.

The above lines seem to propose a desire for truth and reality, on the part of the unidentified lady, who ponders her image seeking ‘what she really is’. However, paired with this desire for truth, there is an inclination to discard it. Not discovering the truth of her image to her love, the lady turns her stare away on the way to a softer and more sympathetic light of the moon or candles. However, “The moon, like the mirror, has no light of its own; … it reflects the light of the sun while its nature remains totally unaffected” (Rahimi, 2015, p. 13).  Again, the poet seems to compare the starkly precise image of the glass with the more passionate and less truthful but imaginably more cheering world of misconception. Consequently, “the human mind is mirrored by the natural world, and the natural world is, conversely, mirrored” (Bloom, 2011, p. 191).

The eye of a little god, four-cornered p. 887.

In the above line appears a way of interrogating the nature of god; according to Plath, the mirror creates a title for itself; it is ‘the eye of a little god’; the poet seems to be employing the cold and unresponsive reflection of the echo or reflect as a metaphor for a remote and indifferent maker. Plath informs her readers metaphorically that her mirror is the shape of an eye of a little god.  There is an indication to be understood that the poet has a weak association with the real God.

Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long (p. 887)

In the above two lines, critics might realize the ironic humor that the poet presents since the mirror indicates how it passes its days. The mirror is permanently gazing and glaring at the wall it encounters because there is nobody between it and the wall. However, in this thought, there is also a further insinuation of the mirror’s precise nature, as it perceives not the wall’s shade, but its slight inadequacies. Despite such ‘speckles’, the faithful depiction, mirror, looks to have molded an affection to the wall whose representation so often reflects a representation that ‘flickers’ owing to the passing of time. In the eighth and ninth lines, the readers can understand that the mirror on the side of the room correspondingly signifies the passage of time that marks the succession of ‘faces and darkness’ which are used once more in line 16 below; they are used as depictions that propose morning, which replaces the dimness showing a marker of time ephemerality.

The poet’s choice of the expression ‘flickers’— an expression that most people would unite with a transitory foundation of light, for example, a candle to pronounce how the mirror beholds the passing of complete days, indicates how very contrarily the mirror beholds time and mortality in contrast with people.

I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over p. 887.

In the above lines, it can be understood that the poet is referring here to the anguish of loneliness and sadness. There is a sort of relationship, but this relationship is not stable; coming and going. It can be understood that the affiliation between the mirror and the wall is not as continual as readers may think, the wall flickers. In this instance, there is a reflection, but it is not about the mirror; it is about the poet herself who stands behind the mirror.

         Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me p. 887,

At the start of the second stanza, Mirror undertakes and shows a much darker attitude. The poem “introduces … a process of change by showing a life without illusion in two images of replication, a lake and a mirror” (Broe, 1980, p. 92). The manner of Mirror grows dim and the theme of morality undertakes a dramatic modification, as the lady finds her echo in the mirror to be an undesirable reminder of her growing age reflecting her mortality—and eventually, a foundation of trepidation. The change is sharply indicated by the presentation of a dissimilar sort of mirror; it is the reflective external of a lake.

This brings to mind the allegorical figure Narcissus[2], who loved his own reflection in a pond and died because of impossible obsession. Even though the woman bent over the pond in a manner similar to Narcissus, she did not adore her own copy as Narcissus did but she was filled with loathing the self at what she perceived. The mirror is the symbol of her other self, and it is this narcissistic image” (Masal, 2006, p. 69). The poet shows us a good reason for using water imagery in the last lines because they provide identical reflective abilities as the mirror does, however also suggests profundity, aloofness, the mysteriousness, to conclude the image with a threat of demise through drowning.In the poem ‘Mirror’, Plath expresses an elaborate exploration of the particular connotations of this image. These connotations can be well understood in terms of relation with death and drowning figures as moonlight, candle light, silver and water” (Masal, 2006, p. 96).

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 p. 887.

Despite the woman’s ostensible denunciation of the mirror, the mirror, according to Plath, carries on its work of reproducing the image ‘faithfully’, even while the woman’s back is twisted. We find the poet uses personification when we realize that the mirror can see. The lady who scrutinizes the pond, wishing to get back a pleasing picture of herself is dissatisfied again. The lady’s reply to the ruthless morality of the image she realizes every morning involves ‘tears and an agitation of hands’. The women’s distress at being repeatedly drawn to her personal depiction in the mirror, and thus far been resisted by what the woman sees there, is made more and more evident by her ‘agitation of hands’ and ‘tears’. As the mirror recognizes, however, the reflected depiction is essential to her, and every morning, she is obliged to come back to it.

In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish p. 887.

The above closing two lines to the poem present a specimen of the type of swift, suddenly violent, metaphors for which the poetry of Sylvia Plath is famous. Here the variances between a pond and a piece of glass are significant. The pond is not ‘silver and exact’ as the mirror, but it partakes greater depth. The pond’s picture is improved, at the time the mirror becomes an unattractive prompt of the woman’s personal lost youth. It is the woman, the piece of poetry proposes, who had been the ‘young girl’ who was ‘drowned’ in the pond. At this point, the pond seems to signify time, in the opinion of the poet, it is time that has exterminated the young hood of the girl and changed her into ‘old woman’. The mirror is “capable of seeing everything. The Mirror finds everything not merely reflecting and ever-changing seeds of the future” (Debata, 2014). The poet employs a rather outrageous metaphor, equating the woman’s image to ‘a terrible fish’ going up from the lowest point of a pond; the face has been made ridiculous by the progress of days and nights. Finally, the poem, Mirror, is apparently like a mirror. The final inquiry of the poem into the flowing nature of reflection is directed through the particular association between the two chief portraits or figures: the mirror as well as the pond.

  1. Self-Discovering

The quest for identity and liberation that characterizes Mirror is of great concern and love. It is a piece of poetry that is represented by love and singing. “Love poetry is not only written but also sung” (Dahami, 2015). “Light indicates the internal light, the spiritual light that gleams in the poet” (Dahami, 2020). The woman who peers into the lake attempting to determine ‘what she really is’ represents the person’s search for identity in this poem on several levels, most obviously. As the woman trusts that ‘what she really is’ is decided by her natural appearance, she seemingly accepts the conventional womanlike role allocated to her via her culture. Plath “manages to convey with absorbing complexity the experience of a woman interacting with her environment while at the same time undergoing a period of intense suffering” (Roberts, 2003, p. 102). The woman’s mission for self-discovery is unpretentious, and the lake is ‘important to her’ however, she cannot agree with what is ‘faithfully’ reproduced in its profundities and she comes back the morning after morning, expecting better results. The girl, who once was drowned by the lady herself, now substituted, to her awfulness, by an aged lady who gets up from the deepest point ‘like a terrible fish’. “In the poem ‘Mirror’ the moon and the candles are grouped together as liars in contrast to the truthfulness of the mirror” (Singh, 2005, p. 133). A slight wonder that the lady wishes to mislead herself with the more pleasurable representations delivered by the light candle and moon.

In Mirror, the voice that speaks throughout the poem belongs, paradoxically, to an inanimate entity, namely to a mirror. The mirror is personified and endowed with a voice and a soul of its own. In accordance with this assumed perspective, the deictic system employed by Sylvia Plath in the poem revolves around the use of the first person narrative (Burcea, 2014).

The poem Mirror, for several critics, is part of an interim period in the poetic life of the poet; a period shows that Plath’s poetry lacks humor and honesty and her poetry fails to measure the shadowy influence of her last poetry in which life “imitates art in her mirror notebook” (Butscher, 1977, p. 78).  The Mirror, as a title of Plath, divulges the speaker’s identity and the piece of poetry still forces the readers and listeners to ask what accurately is being described. The poet utilizes this technique of personification to provide a lifeless object such as the glass, which makes the mirror and the capacity for speech personify the human. From such an unanticipated first-person perspective, the readers and listeners learn a great deal of everyday objects that the readers and listeners might otherwise believe.

The personality of the speaker as a mirror or lake is also under investigation. In the first stanza, there is the element of personification that the mirror takes on the potentials of a person, claiming that it is an impartial observer who does not distort or evaluate what stands in front of it. Besides, the dependability of self-evaluation is weakened by the mirror’s credence that the pink spotted wall it stares at all day is a part of its private sentimental heart. The association and sympathy of the mirror with the wall become too comprehensive that when a person utilizes the mirror for its planned intention, his face is considered an interruption that separates the mirror from a fragment of itself, which is the heart.

In the second stanza, the characteristics of the speaker are more challenging because it claims that it is a pond. Its voice is outstandingly similar to that of the mirror. The external face of the tranquil pond could hardly mirror descriptions with the same lucidity as a mirror. The speaker still claims that its representations are accurately contrasted with what is provided by ‘those liars, the candles or the moon’. The mirror’s indication of the face and the darkness affords further proof that the mirror and the pond symbolize the same. Once more, the speaker’s knowledge of self is beneath accuracy. Brutality is not its intention; however, the outcome measured by the reaction and response of the woman; suggests that the speaker is not the best evaluator of its particular purposes.

Since several critics come to an agreement that the mirror or lake in Mirror is a metaphor for poetry as well as poets, the inconsistency between the speaker’s intentions and the clear values of its images suggest that the poet may be inquiring about her personal self as a poet who misleads herself about her peculiar independence. A well-accepted obsession with loss runs all through much of the work of Sylvia Plath and as well appears in Mirror. The notion that normal objects, while apparently benevolent, actually harbor the threat of loss is a recurring matter in the major poems of our poet. At this point, the mirror preserves a passive manner but then goes into an unkind pond from whose depths a representation of the lady’s private mortality ascends ‘like a terrible fish’. This alteration is also signaled in the first stanza through the admission of the mirror, which it ‘swallows’ anything it looks at, proposing that it is not very benevolent after all. The pond has completely absorbed the girl who has been sunk in its deep bottom by the lady who substitutes her. Sylvia Plath thinks that if the woman has no purpose except to reflect the realization of the husband and children which is similar to a mirror and if she is considered merely decorative, and if her value as an individual is dependent upon youth and beauty, in such a way, she is right to be depressed by the picture, which rises ‘like a terrible fish’.

The feature that Plath assigns to the mirror is circuitously appropriate to poetry too. In other words, when the poem precisely designates a mirror, it metaphorically or symbolically designates poetry itself. As the metaphorical meaning of a piece of poetry is not openly stated, the readers and listeners might ask a question like ‘how do the readers and listeners know that what the narrator says characteristically denotes to poetry? A common reply is that poetry frequently utilizes representation, and lots of poems are in a sense concerning poetry, what it says, and how it is constructed. A reply exact to Plath’s poem is found indefinite evidence the poet gives his readers. They realize that her verse talks about a mirror as well as about poetry from the evidence that exists in the poet’s word adoptions in the formal structure and the metaphors of the poem. However, before the readers can comprehend what Plath pronounces about the verse, the readers must first comprehend what she pronounces about the mirror. Plath “has come to want poems not merely to exist in print or to be read but to be eaten and taken in [the] whole” (Riggs, 2001, p. 604).

The Mirror and other “poems, setting up opposites, mirror images of self and other self, reflect Sylvia’s strange perception of the world and go some way toward explaining her preoccupation with doubles, or doppelgangers” (Stevenson, 1986, p. 146). The mirror appeals for itself to a kind of broad-minded and dispassionate character that people lack even though Mirror is personified as we realize from its announcing in the first line of the piece of poetry, as ‘I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions’. Consequently, the mirror owns both human and non-human qualities. The mirror has no hidden reasons or motivations, and it does not postpone in reflecting whoever meets it; the mirror says, ‘Whatever I see I swallow immediately/Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike’ that shows a senseless feeling. Plath plays on the expression ‘unmisted’ to demonstrate that the reflection of the looking-glass is visually clear and unblemished to one who looks into it and to repeat that the mirror offers an image that is candid and true, even if such truth is hurting. Plath “seeks her reflection in the mirror. For her, the search in it, is a search for the other self, or her ideal self” (Shah, n.d. p. 302). The mirror is not affected by sentiments that might ‘mist’ its decision and force it to change the view it provides either for worse or for better.

The mirror does not only reflect an image passively but actively grasps with an ‘eye of a little god, four-cornered’. The expression ‘eye’ here differs from the eye of a human in that it is square or oblong. The mirror does not necessitate the attendance of a person to perform. It confirms to the readers, ‘I meditate on the opposite wall’ and additionally it speaks ‘I have looked at it so long/I think it is a part of my heart’. It seems that the mirror is no longer an instrument of unsympathetic reflection, but possesses a vital heart and being with the capacity to ‘meditate’. However, the reader/critic should observe that behind the expression ‘meditate’ is a witticism on ‘reflect’. Readers would ordinarily correlate a mirror with the term ‘reflect’ in the sense of a pictorial phenomenon that a mirror’s echo is a thing approximately readers see with their eyes. With the intention of having the mirror assert that it ‘meditates’ on the contrasting wall, our poet delicately calls up the meaning of ‘reflect’ as a mental activity or reflectiveness.

In the second part, the mirror interrelates with an exact person. Mirror is divided into two parts of nine lines in which a line break separates the two parts. The speaker, in the second section, is shown suddenly as a lake; Plath ordains a characteristic alteration from a piece of glass to water expressing habitual documentation between them. The alteration repeated in Plath’s literary work is almost predictable. The second part starts with the word ‘Now’ to strengthen the distinction between the two and to indicate a new opening. The speaking of the mirror pronounces that ‘Now I am a lake’ which shows a sort of great motion and activeness. The alteration is significant because it makes a metaphor for the mirror itself. The lake looks like a mirror as far as both can reflect portraits in front of them; however, there are factual alterations between the two objects.

The lake possesses depth unlike the superficial mirror because the lake’s material is accurately fluid; its reflection is hypothetically less stable than that of an immovable mirror. Besides, water is penetrable differently from an immovable piece of glass. “There is an image of the lake as ‘morgue of old logs and old images.’ The lake contains the mirror that shines in so many poems – a reflection of the double in herself and a convenient symbol for art’s peculiar process” (Butscher, 1977, p. 314). Additionally, the echoing surface of the movable lake is positioned horizontally, but the mirror hangs vertically. Lastly, the lake is a natural entity, whereas the piece of glass is not. Such discrepancies might complicate the appreciation of the intention of the poet about her mirror, but she highlights the similarities more willingly than the differences between the two objects, the mirror, and the lake. Through using a metaphor, the poet might speak about the two objects simultaneously.

The alteration from a type of reflector to another counterpart is an even more significant modification in tone from a section to another. In contrast with the mirror’s accurate impassivity in the first section, the lady who appears in the second section displays a significant part of the feeling. When the lady realizes her reflection, the piece of glass ironically affirms, ‘She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands’. Personified, the mirror gossips that she acts with absolute passion, ‘Searching my reaches for what she really is’. The lady is pursuing more in-depth evidence about her uncomplicated identity, not, as some may think, investigating the mirror to prove her appearance. The woman is principally anxious with increasing older, reviewing her face as proof of getting old. Her nervous response displays that a deteriorating carnal look is removed from her sagacity of self-worth. Assuming that the lady searches for an assertion of her original selfhood in her mirror image, the mirror devalues the case when it announces ‘I am important to her’.

Given the viewpoint of the lady, it makes sense to envisage the mirror as a pond, as it appears, she wishes it holds more profound information than it really does. The weeping that she does over the looking glass also affords the water to load the ‘lake’. It is a metaphor that permits Plath to provide two rather astounding images in the final two lines. The mirror finishes:

In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman

Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish p. 887.

The two young and old ladies symbolize the lady in Mirror at diverse phases of her life. Over the progress of the lady’s life, she has observed her face modification from youth to her existing middle age, and the lady anticipates her appearance as it is going to be after she becomes an older lady. Besides, Plath, “who rides the whirlwind precariously … wrote some very tender poems about motherhood and domestic life” (Preminger, et al., 1993, p. 352). Furthermore, “The ‘Mirror’ is the symbol of the life that is approaching an aid” (Masal, 2006, p. 95). The progress of the poem starting from the first to the second section is from the description of the reflection ‘I am silver and exact’ moving to the movable depiction of the lake, ‘Now I am a lake’.

Plath’s employment of the expression ‘drowned’ proposes that the lady has not inactively perceived herself getting old, but instead, she is in charge of having put an end to a part of herself. Possibly the woman’s apprehension with aging prohibited her from relishing her youth. Her tears of wailing for what she perceives in the piece of glass have ‘drowned’ the individual she formerly was. Such tears are also frightening to plunge her existing self and to acquiesce to the ‘terrible fish’ of middle age that is steadily approaching the externality.

On the one hand, the pond really puts up with a mirror; on the other hand, we conceive that the mirror stands for poetry since verse can afford an advantaged sight of the poet herself. The mirror is ‘four-cornered’ like the approximately square outlining the poem, which is seen on the sheet of paper with four corners. A significant point in appreciating this piece of poetry, the readers need to take into consideration both its verbatim significance and its allegorical or metaphorical connotations in which reading a piece of verse necessitates similar attention.

The poet takes benefit of the sort of ambiguity of her poem in which the title denotes to ‘a mirror’ as a noun and also denotes as a verb as in ‘to mirror’. The expression mirror in such a way is not simply a motionless object that readers can look at and grasp in the hands. The readers are taken to a comparative wonder at the sudden advent of a ‘terrible fish’ at the close of the poem counterparts that of the lady in expecting herself as an unappealing older woman. With such subtle similarities between the learner and the lady character, Plath may be cautioning the readers that if they come to the poem for relaxation rather than for certainty, they might risk being dissatisfied. Our poet, Plath may also suggest that it is unsuitable or ill-advised for the listener to look too profoundly into the indirect connotations of the poem, fair as is the situation with the lady who pursuits very energetically in the mirror for a thing it cannot offer. The mirror reflects back to the lookers what is candid about them. They might imagine that it is a reflection of life.

  1. Findings

The personality of the speaker in the poem as a mirror or a lake is under in-depth examination. The reader might discover that there is an element of personification that the mirror takes on the potentials of somebody, claiming that it is an impartial observer who does not distort or evaluate what stands in front of it. The quest for personality and liberation that characterizes this poem is of great concern. The poem Mirror is composed of a mirror’s viewpoint, and it reflects what looks to be a light-hearted reflection on the reliable decency and exactness of its reflection.

Several critics harmonize that the two identities, the mirror as well as the lake in this Mirror are metaphors for poetry as well as a representation of the poet. The inconsistency between the two beings stated intentions and clear principles of the images that suggest the poet may be inquiring about her private identity who misleads herself about her peculiar independence. The woman who peers into the lake attempting to determine ‘what she really is’ represents the person’s search for identity in Mirror on several levels, most obviously.

The poem is actually like a real reflection. The final analysis of the poem into the flowing nature of reflection might be directed via an exclusive association between the two chief representations or figures – the pond and before that the mirror as well. The characteristics of the mirror are more stimulating because such characteristics assert that the mirror is a pond reflecting active life with all its mixed elements such as youngness, oldness, misery, reality, light-heartedness and other reflections of life. All in all, it is obvious that the short poem of Sylvia Plath, Mirror, reveals that the events indicated by the mirror are a sheer reflection on life and a representation of Plath.


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[1] All verse lines of the poem Mirror in this research are from this edition of the book and page numbers will be added in parentheses within the text.

[2] In Greek mythology; it is a good-looking young man who fell in love with his own reflection

المركز الديمقراطى العربى

المركز الديمقراطي العربي مؤسسة مستقلة تعمل فى اطار البحث العلمى والتحليلى فى القضايا الاستراتيجية والسياسية والاقتصادية، ويهدف بشكل اساسى الى دراسة القضايا العربية وانماط التفاعل بين الدول العربية حكومات وشعوبا ومنظمات غير حكومية.

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