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Mirror

By kokiiangel Jun 01, 2014 1899 Words
Summary :
the mirror says that it's unjudgemental and it just reflects everything it sees.... it calls the candles and moon liars and goes on about how the woman needs the mirror. It also compares and places itself within the ranks of godliness. This poem is not a riddle, speaking with the voice of some mysterious "I" until the end, where the reader is shocked to find out that it's a mirror, and not a person speaking. Instead, the poem lets us know from the start that we're hearing from a mirror, with its title, "Mirror," and its first line, "I am silver and exact." The first stanza describes the mirror, which seems to be like one of those people who doesn't tell white lies – it's truthful and exact, but not cruel. As the first stanza personifies the mirror, showing us some of its human characteristics, we also find out a little about the mirror's life. Most of the time, it reflects a pink speckled wall, which could be found in any bathroom, but it also sees a lot of faces, and a lot of darkness. Jump into the second stanza, and the stakes have changed. The mirror is no longer a mirror, but a lake, which also shows reflections. And we get to see a whole new character: a woman. We saw faces in the first stanza, but now we focus on one face in particular. This woman, we find out, isn't very happy with her reflection in the lake, so she tries to find a kinder reflection under the light of a candle or the moon. When the lake reflects her faithfully anyway, she cries and gets upset. In the last two lines of this poem, we see why this woman is so upset: in her watery reflection, her past is drowning, and a horrible future is rising to meet her Analys is :

Line 1 :I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions
We know mirrors don't talk – but that just makes us more curious about what this mirror is going to say. We know from looking at them that mirrors are silver and give an exact reflection of what is in front of them. The second part of the line is not so simple. This mirror is telling us it has no preconceptions. The mirror doesn't change what it shows you based on it's understanding of who you are, or whether you're having a bad day or a good day – it just shows what it sees. So, while this mirror may be personified in the poem, it doesn't, like most people, let what it has seen before affect what it does in the present. Line 2 :Whatever I see, I swallow immediately.

To figure out this line, it helps to think of what mirrors do to everything they see – they reflect it. Swallowing everything, then, is a metaphor for reflecting everything. The substitution of "swallowing" for "reflecting" makes this mirror seem human. It appears hungry to us, and a little unforgiving and scary. We certainly don't want to be swallowed by our mirrors. Line 3 : Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislikethe first part of this line isn't too complicated – we know that mirrors reflect things just as they are. But then we get to the second part of the line, where we find out that whatever the mirror swallows is "unmisted by love or dislike." Unmisted is yet another metaphor; here it means unchanged, but it gives us an image of an actual mist that could be – but isn't – clouding what the mirror sees. Even more interesting, love and dislike are the things that cause this mist. The mirror, even though it's not human, knows that when humans love something, it appears more beautiful, and when we dislike something, it seems uglier. Lines 4-5: I am not cruel, only truthful –

The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Here the mirror seems to realize that it's coming off as a little harsh, because it just shows what it sees and takes nothing else in account. So it explains that it's not cruel, just truthful. If the mirror were to lie to make what it reflected look worse than it already does, it would be considered cruel. Instead, it just shows what it sees, good or bad. We now get a dash connecting line 4 to line 5. A dash can mean many things (, it seems to denote a comment from the mirror, explaining the previous line further, while in the meantime giving us a pretty cool new way to think about a mirror. The mirror, in line 5, is comparing itself to the eye of a "little god." Indeed, the mirror is getting a little high and mighty here, saying that it's powerful. It's also saying something about what it thinks a god is like – not cruel, but truthful. Line 6: Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.

This line tells us in a round about way what the mirror is facing: a wall. The line continues to personify the mirror – instead of facing it, or reflecting it, the mirror "meditates on" (or contemplates) the opposite wall. This implies that the mirror, an inanimate object, thinks. Lines 7-8: It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers. Now we find out more details about the opposite wall, which serves as the object of the mirror's meditation, or thoughts. The wall is speckled and pink. The color pink makes the wall seem feminine; this mirror is probably in a girl's bedroom or bathroom. Next, the mirror tells us about its connection to the wall. Using enjambment, a literary device where a thought is split between two lines, the mirror tells us that it has looked at this wall for so long that it feels like the wall is a part of its heart. It's a little cute that the mirror feels like what it's reflecting is a part of its heart. But then we remember that the mirror doesn't have this feeling for the person it often reflects, but rather for a boring pink wall. At the end of the eighth line, we see that the relationship between the wall and the mirror isn't as constant as we thought: the wall flickers. Line 9: Faces and darkness separate us over and over.

Here we see why the wall flickers – because of faces and darkness. The faces come to look in the mirror, and when they leave, they turn the light off, leaving the mirror to reflect nothing but the darkness. The way Plath has structured this line makes us think that the mirror must be sad at this separation. If we didn't know any better, we'd think that these two lines were part of a love poem from person to her beloved, and not from a mirror to a wall.

Lines 10-11: Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me.
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
With the new stanza, our poem switches: we're now no longer hearing from a mirror, but from a lake. Yet the speaker is conscious of this change – it sets it up with the word "now." We're not quite sure what the lake looks like, but it must be pretty clear and still to show reflections like a mirror. We wonder if the lake is as honest as the mirror, and if it misses the pink speckled wall. Whether or not this lake is the same at heart as the mirror, the poem moves on to show what the lake is reflecting: a woman. Because she's looking in a lake and not a mirror, the woman must bend over to see the reflection of her face. But the woman isn't only trying to see the reflection of her face; she's hoping to see something deeper: what she really is. She's searching the reaches, or the depths, of the lake, perhaps looking not only into her reflection, but also into the waters beneath it. Lines 12-13: Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon. I see her back, and reflect it faithfully This woman is determined to find a way to reflect herself, to show something deeper than what is on the surface. After searching in the lake, she turns to face the moonlight and candles to try and see a different reflection. The lake calls candles and the moon liars, because their light can warp sight, often hiding people's blemishes and making them appear more beautiful (candlelight dinners and moonlight walks are romantic for a reason, after all).Here, we see more human characteristics from the speaker – the lake is calling other inanimate objects liars. Of course, none of these things can talk, much less talk trash about each other, but this lake is proud of its honesty, as we see further in line 13. When the woman is turned away, to look at the lying moon and candles, the lake is still there, reflecting her back, faithfully showing the truth. Line 14: She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands This line shows that the woman is anxious to find what she's looking for – as the lake told us earlier, she is searching for what she really is. She's not satisfied with the lake at first glance, but eventually turns back to it. But the lake seems upset that the woman is rewarding it for its faithful reflection by becoming more distressed. She shows her distress by physically disturbing the lake; her tears drop into it, and her hands stir up the water that shows her reflection. Lines 15-16: I am important to her. She comes and goes.

Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness. This lake sure is proud, saying it's important to the woman it reflects. But remember, this speaker is supposed to be truthful and exact, so maybe it's right when it says that it's important to this woman. The lake even gives proof to back up how important it is – it says the woman visits each morning, so that the lake then reflects the woman's face instead of the dark of the night. If this woman comes to look at the lake every morning, well then maybe it is important to her. Lines 17-18: the two last lines: Now, the water becomes not just a calm mirror, but terrifying. In these two lines, drowning and rising in the lake metaphorically describe aging. The woman has "drowned" a young girl in the lake – but we don't think she has actually drowned anyone. Instead, the young girl who used to look into the lake is gone, having grown into a woman. Why does the speaker say the woman "drowned" her own youth in these waters? Perhaps because the woman has spent so much time peIn these final lines, we understand what's so haunting and pressing about looking into this lake for the woman in the poem. In her own reflection in this lake, beautiful youth is sinking and terrible old age is rising. These two lines are like the punch line of the poem; it's not a joke, and the lines aren't funny, but they deliver the message of the poem so sharply and suddenly it leaves you feeling a little out of breath, a little horrified.

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