This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) was an American poet, novelist and short story writer. She was married to British Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes until 1962 when Ted Hughes separated from her to start a relationship with her friend Assia Wevill. Plath is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry and is best-known for her two collections The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel. Mirror was privately and posthumously published by the Tragara Press in 1961.
I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions. Whatever I see, I swallow immediately. Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike I am not cruel, only truthful ± 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. Now I am a lake. A woman 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. 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 toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.
In being a lake. god too has been belittled by man¶s inability to give a woman her due. Her assertion that she is not cruel. Note that she does not spell god with a caiptal g. it has also been transformed into a cocoon. the silver of the mirror and the lake come home. Having been reduced to no more than mere skin and flesh for eons. says that she sees herself as the eye of the Cross--the four-cornered god. This identification and closeness does not last²the intrusion of darkness. The second image the poem moves to is that of a ³lake´. it is the woman¶s face that is the true sun to her. she again works as a mirror for the woman who seeks to gauge and understand herself by trying to comprehend the depth of another. Perhaps. The young girl that the woman was and the old woman she will be are all absorbed in the amniotic comfort another woman provides. In saying that she has ³no preconceptions´. In her. The helplessness and sense of pain are evidenced again in her blank contemplation of the wall²it seems as if the woman in her has been driven up against a wall. of men in this darkness estranges her own skin from herself. The poet seems to be comparing herself to an inert and absorbing surface such as silver. but in having lived with such a perception. it is close to her heart. The first is the image of ³silver´.Learner¶s Tip: The poem works with two images that initially at least seem distinct from one another. Therefore. she is the poet herself. It is that which dispels the darkness of the night for her. The candle and the moon are liars. but in the lake and in the mirror that promise to be truthful and honest she may see ³what she really is´. It is what the poet sees herself as. . for by their light woman may only see her appearance. The woman who comes to the poet for a reflection of herself sees the woman in the poet as the only viable origin of the meaning of her own existence. A diffidence that women feel because of the contradictory expectations that man and society have from them is communicated in the assertion that she ³swallow[s] immediately´ whatever it is that she is required to see or experience. The only colour she is able to see is spotted pink²perhaps the colour of her skin. The relationship described between herself and the woman who seeks to find herself in her is symbiotic²the poet too feels ³important´ and wanted with her. but only truthful. Therefore. it is natural that she sees herself as such. Here. to recognise her equality with man. there seems to be a helplessness and sense of loss that she seems to be communicating. A mirror is silvered on one side owing to which it is able to reflect.
Why do you think the poet says : I have no preconceptions. she has access to a point of view. why does she call herself the eye of a god? Is it because.Read and Answer Answer the following questions based on the poem. then why do you think she makes such a comparison? 2. she may be confused about who she is. Is it only because she compares herself to a mirror? If so. I swallow immediately. but she is yet the sun who is far greater than the liar that the candle and the moon can be. As a mirror. She reflects them truthfully and they reward her with their tears. The agitated woman may be in tears. she also calls herself the ³eye of a little god´. What does the comparison with the mirror with the poet then imply? 3. Why do you think the poet chooses these symbols? Why does she shift from one symbol to another? Is there any change in diction as we move from one stanza to another? Look at the choice of words the poet makes and point out the change in diction and tone? Why do you think this change occurs? Find lines from the poem which reveal the identity of she who comes to the lake and to the mirror 5. The poet has called herself the eye of a god and in the second stanza she compares the woman¶s face with the sun that dispels the darkness of the night every morning. the speaker is a µlake¶. What sort of empowerment do . the speaker is µsilver¶. A mirror is seen as an inert reflecting surface. she has the power to give identity to he/she who looks into her. Whatever I see. 1. a part of a mirror. Why is this relationship of such importance to both the poet and the women? Or In the first stanza. and has the power to reflect. Both of these things are reflecting surfaces. If the mirror is only an inert object with which she finds some similarity. In the second stanza. Do you see an inversion of power makeup here? Although she is just a silent mirror and a placid lake. and even invert? 4. Women come to the poet who is both the mirror and the lake. as a mirror.
like a terrible fish. youthful and beautiful. torn by society¶s standards. and in me an old woman Rises toward her day after day. on behalf of herself and of the other women who seek her? 6. Do you think the ³terrible fish´ is the aged mermaid that every woman. Therefore. silver. another figure of speech that a synecdoche is closely associated and sometimes confused with. dreads being reduced to? Working with Words Metonymy and Synecdoche Read this line. Thus. however. silver stands for a mirror. Less commonly. which is used for purposes of coating in order to turn glass into mirror. is part of the mirror. It is a metonymy. The myth and the fabled figure of the mermaid. For example. women have been led to dread age and the physical alterations that accompany it.you see taking place here? What is the poet fighting. hands for workmen. taken from the poem. here in this line. the reference to silver is clearly a reference to a mirror. police for a handful of officers. In me she has drowned a young girl. Synecdoche is a figure of speech in which part represents whole² For example. Here. India for the Indian team or its members playing a certain sport. the whole is also used to represent a part. there is a use of a synecdoche. . There is. have always been cherished by women. In the above sentence. carefully. Brought up to believe that being beautiful in a certain way is a duty. wheels for car. This association is brought about by the use of a reference to a part for a reference to the whole. I am silver and exact.
6. 7.A metonymy is a figure of speech consisting of the use of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is an attribute or with which it is associated. 1. you and I will probably have been friends right from cradle to grave. Read the following sentences carefully and identify which of them has a metonymy and which a synecdoche. 2. 6. 3. 4. 5. Some of the best brains in India have qualified this examination that you plan to take. 8. 5. We prayed to the Lord to give us this day our daily bread. 2. preconceptions immediately opposite flickers separate agitation replaces terrible . Tongue for a language or dialect. The Crown for the monarch. 3. 4. Language in Practice Stress Implementation Mark the stress in the following words taken from the poem. the bench will now announce its decision! At the end of this life. 1. Following are some examples of metonymy. Homer¶s Helen is referred to as the ³face that launched a thousand ships´. He has many mouths to feed and no income to do it with. Silence.
however. there are eleven occurrences of the personal pronoun I.Activity This poem describes women¶s anxieties at being annihilated from the realm of meaningful intellectual and emotional communication to be reduced to mere means of exchange for power and monetary alliances. Discuss with your teacher how Plath attempts to inverse existing power hierarchies by using language to access this power. . There are also multiple references to a she and a her. In an eighteenline long poem.
It should be of standard size . .Comment [d1]: Please make this pic smaller and put it next to the about the poet section.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.