Truth, Illusion, and Examination in Sylvia Plath's The Mirror

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Truth, Illusion, and Examination in Sylvia Plath's The Mirror

Who would be so pretentious as to suggest that they were "silver and exact," and that they "have no preconceptions?" Poet Sylvia Plath dares to "meditate on the opposite wall" in her poem The Mirror to reveal to her reader some of her own insecurities, the theme of this, and several other of her poems. The poet does some introspective exploration in both stanzas; the two carefully intended to 'mirror' each other. It is her use of private or contextual symbolism, her use of symbols to create an atmosphere of truth versus illusion, and her design of the mirror to symbolize her inner-self that make this poem such a vehicle for self-examination. Plath's message is not conveyed as clearly to the reader as her reflection. She encrypts her theme using an intensely private, symbolic vernacular.

The symbols planted throughout the poem cannot be categorized as universal. There are no Biblical, historical, or cultural allusions. Instead Plath communicates the instantaneous miracle of reflection by saying "whateve...

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