Tone in “Mirror” by Sylvia Plath
In “Mirror” by Sylvia Plath, the speaker is represented as a mirror that reflects the life and actions of another human being. The speaker develops a casually detached tone right from the beginning of the poem, but also portrays an accepting mood by the end of the work. These tones and moods are expressed through the use of diction, punctuation, metaphors, and imagery. The tone of this poem fluctuates and makes it difficult for the reader to grasp the emotions of the speaker due to the fact that it is a very short piece. The first stanza of “Mirror” starts off extremely straightforward and detached from any emotion. The speaker says, ”I am silver and exact.”(1) “I have no preconceptions”(1). These first two lines are stated extremely straightforward and casual as if the speaker is blunt and does not like unnecessary filler words. The speaker comes across as detached from emotion when she states, “I am not cruel, only truthful”(4). This statement portrays a person who does not care about others emotions or opinions, but only for the basic facts/truths of life. The poetic device of diction plays an important role in expressing tone throughout “Mirror”. These casually detached first few lines help the reader realize the speaker is a mirror, “eye of a little god, four-cornered”(5), and may also help explain why this speaker lacks descriptive words and information. Diction is used in line 5 as stated above to describe the speaker, as well as in line 13 “and reflect it faithfully”. These two lines of straightforward diction confirm for readers that the speaker is a mirror. The use of diction as a poetic device develops the casual tone of the poem and helps to keep the speaker detached from her emotions. The diction throughout the poem is dry, precise, and blunt enough to remain detached and casually stated. This speaker almost seems to use the lack of diction to create tone rather than filling it with descriptive/filler diction....
Cited: Plath, Sylvia. "Mirror." The Oxford Book of American Poetry. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006. 887. Print.
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