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Mirror Sylvia Plath:

Mirror Sylvia Plath Jorgie and Justine

Slide 2:

I am silver and exact . I have no preconceptions . Whatever I see I swallow immediately Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike . I am not cruel, only truthful - The opening pronoun shows that the poem is autobiographical, unless Plath has created a persona, and as the mirror is an inanimate object, and this poem in effectively a monologue, the mirror is being personified The full stop in the middle of the opening line acts as a caesura and invites the reader to pause and reflect on the first sentence, it also pivots two separate ideas within the first line There is internal rhyme in the second line in “see” and “immediately”, this gives the reader a speed at which to read it and sets the rhythm Effectively dislike is similar to hate, therefore a binary opposition is utilised here by Plath, this is emphasised by their positioning as the two words are so close to one another. The mirror is suggesting to the reader that it does not judge anyone by the exterior, yet this idea is contradicted in the ultimate stanza where the woman is judged and the mirror calls the moon and candles “liars” “I” is the dominant pronoun in this poem and this is displayed by the fact that it is repeated five times in the first four lines alone, this connotes how the mirror is self-centred and this contradicts all that it says in the opening of the poem The word “swallow” links in with the lake semantic field that is discussed by Plath later on, particularly in the ultimate stanza

Slide 3:

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 . The repetition of the word “over”, a long with the enjambment used emphasises the amount of time that goes by while the mirror reflects the pink wall The enjambment flows like a river, therefore, as a lake is later mentioned, form reflects content There is a later mentioning of the candles and the moon, which emit light therefore, a second binary opposition in the poem “four cornered” displays a confined space; also, unlike a circle, a four cornered shape is not infinite, unlike God Repetition of the harsh sound and the short vowels produce a precise image The words “god” and “meditate” form links with one another and relate to a religious motif ; the mirror is treated as though it is a sacred object as it proves to be of high importance to the woman throughout the poem The word “eye” may denote both vision and insight. A miniature God, it is free of emotion and reason, yet is this really the case?

Slide 4:

Now I Am a Lake . A woman bends over me, Searching my reaches for what she really is . From this phrase we can tell that the mirror is never truly happy and keeps on changing herself to. The word ‘lake’ used within this poem is a distorted replication of her view on what she sees. The enjambment through the sentences emphasis’ how time is moving on so quickly The woman in which the mirror is speaking about could be reflecting on how the mirror feels about ‘herself’ as the mirror is constantly searching for what the mirror is really all about.

Slide 5:

Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon. I see her back and reflect it faithfully . I am so important to her. This is very stereotypical of women, as they are stereotypically seen as ‘vein’ and believing that looks are the most important thing. It gives a very arrogant and smug impression of the mirror. This shows that the mirror almost sees the woman in a negative perspective as she ‘reflects it back faithfully’ could mean that she wants to change the woman so that she sees herself as better but she cannot as she has to reflect whatever she sees’ ‘faithfully’ The emphasis is on liars suggesting that the mirror feels as the she is the best, and accuses others for not telling ‘the truth’ and gives the reader that impression that she is very self - centred.

Slide 6:

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 towards her day after day, like a terrible fish It is explicit here that she is afraid of ageing. The poem is generally about the terrible difficulty of truth, especially the inexorable process of age and time. The enjambment between the last two lines again symbolises the progression in time and how the mirror is living her ‘life’ day by day and not thinking about the future and taking it day by day.

Key Ideas:

Key Ideas The whole poem is a façade; the mirror states that it is not judgemental and only reflects what it sees, yet it calls the candles and moons liars. It also compares itself within the ranks of a God Plath utilises personification as the mirror is the narrator yet it is an inanimate object The differences between the lake and the mirror are important; the lake is not “silver and exact”, but it has more depth to it There is ambiguity about who the woman in the poem is, is it the poet or a persona? The poem is contrary to ‘Warning’ by Jenny Joseph , where the narrator embraces old age. While Joseph portrays masculine attributes in her poem, the persona created in ‘Mirror’ is one of elegance due to the connotations of water and the tones of female distress There is no sustained syllabic count and only internal rhyme is present, the poem appears to have a lack of structure There is irony on a scientific level used by Plath as the mirror produces a virtual image, not a real one, therefore, it cannot be exact

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