The Mirror

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The Mirror Of Sylvia Plath by Vishav Rakesh Damathia


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ABOUT THE POET Sylvia Plath(1932-1963) who also used the pseudonym Victoria Lucas was born in Massachusetts on October 27, 1932. During her childhood, Sylvia’s father Otto suffered from a lengthy illness and died just days past Sylvia’s 8 th B’Day. Although brief in conventional terms, Sylvia’s life was rich in experiences. She received accolades in the form of prizes, awards and scholarships. In 1982 she received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her Collected Poems. Bright, intelligent and determined, Sylvia had a burning desire to write. She was a high achiever who was never able to quite reach the very high expectations she set for herself. Stricken with self-doubt and depression, Sylvia had a troubled life. She married to Ted Hughes who was himself a very famous poet. “On February 11, 1963 Sylvia gave up her life.”


TITLE The poem deals with mirror’s exactness, truthfulness and human beings’ relationship with it for years together. The whole poem revolves around the Mirror, hence “Mirror” is an appropriate title.


THEME The poem deals with our sense of anxiety when we start showing signs of ageing. Everyone wishes to stay youthful and beautiful all one’s life. However, this being against the law of nature, can never be possible. Hence we need to develop an inner strength to face all stages of life gracefully.

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STANZA - 1 “ I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions. Whatever I see I swallow it immediately Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike. I am not cruel, only truthful—” Giving the description of itself the mirror says I am Silver coloured and I am very accurate while reflecting the images of the objects that fall on my surface. I don’t have any pre-conceived notions and I absorb everything that comes my way. The image is clear and exact as it is neither distorted nor beautified by my likes and dislikes. It is not out of cruelty but truthfulness that I reflect exactly what I see without any intention of hurting anybody.


STANZA - 2 “ 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.” Like an omniscient God I get a multidirectional view of whatever I get to see. Most of the times I get to focus my attention to the opposite wall i.e. pink in colour and has many discoloured patches on its surface. I have been looking at it for such a long time that now it has become a part of my very existence. However, my steady view is interrupted many times. Darkness and individuals standing between me and wall block my view and we are separated from each other whenever such an interruption occurs.


STANZA - 3 “Now I am a lake. A women 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.” Imaging her to be a lake, the mirror says that it finds a women looking into me very closely. Delving deep into my depths she is searching for her beauty and youth that time has robbed her of. She is not able to reconcile to her lack-lustre looks. Hence she catches a glimpse of herself in the dim moon light and candlelight. Their projection of hers is not exact as all blemishes of her face get hidden due to lack of light. She once again examines herself in front of myself for reassurance. However to her disappointment ‘I’ faithfully reflect her tarnished looks which upsets her. Tears well up in her eyes and she is left wringing her hands.


STANZA - 4 “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 towards her day after day like a terrible fish.” Despite being disappointed at the sight of her ageing reflection, she cannot give up. I still hold a significant place and she keeps coming back to me again and again. She starts her morning by looking at her reflection in me. She feels that her beauty and youth have been swallowed by me. Now her old and wrinkled face emerges. The loss of her youth and beauty makes her behave like a fish out of water which rather than looking elegant and graceful looks horrid. DARKNESS


MESSAGE The poem conveys the message that rather than living in the world of illusions, we need to change our attitude and learn to face and accept reality without indulging in self-pity.

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