The Figures Displayed in Sylvia Plath's Mirror Essay

The Figures Displayed in Sylvia Plath's Mirror Essay

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The Figures Displayed in Sylvia Plath's Mirror

The speaker in Sylvia Plath's poem "Mirror" is the actual mirror itself, which has been owned by a now "old woman" (16) for quite some time. This woman has looked into her mirror every day for many years now. The mirror is very aware of her presence and its environment when she is not present. The author provides many details in order for the reader to grasp the mirror's view on its ever-day sights, but this would be an impossible task without the major use of figures of speech. Plath uses many figures of speech for the benefit of the reader to completely grasp the tone and theme of the poem. Once analyzed, we see that all of these figures of speech come together to achieve one overall effect - expressing the ultimate idea of the poem.

The first image and descriptions of the mirror immediately suggest the author's use of personification that brings life to the mirror. From the very beginning it seems as if a person is describing himself: "I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions" (1). We soon realize this is not the case, but that the mirror has taken on a personality and role in the poem. The mirror puts into words what the reader may already know, but just would never think about: if a mirror really could talk this is what it would say. A mirror holds no judgment of what it sees, but only reflects the truth: "I am not cruel, only truthful" (4). This particular mirror has been owned by only one - a now elderly woman who has looked into it for many years now. The author consistently maintains the personification of the mirror throughout the poem to let the mirror speak what it has seen of this woman and its environment over the past years.

The next noticeable use by ...


... middle of paper ...


...s a person would see its reflection in this as well, Plath ends with a simile regarding this reflection. The woman's reflection rises to her from this lake "like a terrible fish" (18). What she has seen is herself grow into an old woman, which although is the truth of the mirror, is a sad actuality to the woman.

Without any of these images, this poem would be lacking to achieve the entire intention of a mirror describing in words what is only seen and not spoken. Plath has done a wonderful job at putting on paper an entire two stanzas of only scenes and not conversation. All of the figures of speech have come together to express one final idea: a mirror does not lie, but only reflects the truth (which can only be described by perfect imagery).


Works Cited:

Plath, Sylvia. The Collected Poems. Ed. Ted Hughes. New York: Perennial ? Harper and Row, 1981.


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