Free Essay

Sylvia Plath’s Mirror: a Reflection

In: English and Literature

Submitted By mistywllms
Words 668
Pages 3
Sylvia Plath’s Mirror: A Reflection
Misty Williams
ENG125 Introduction to Literature
Instructor Stephen Rogers
July 22, 2013

I was drawn to Sylvia Plath’s poem Mirror because of her use of figurative language. I am also drawn to her dark style of writing. Personification, symbolism and metaphors used were key elements in attracting my attention. The personification of the mirror gives the point of view of an impartial bystander observing a woman as she struggles with her changing image and self-esteem. The simile is used to show a woman who is unable to accept who she really is. The use of metaphor explains how something as small as a mirror can have much control over how we view ourselves. Personification occurs when inanimate objects, animals or ideas are assigned human characteristics. In the first four lines the mirror is given human traits with the use of the word
“I”, “Whatever I see, I swallow…” gives the ability to see and swallow, and “I am not cruel, only truthful” gives the mirror a sense of truth and honesty. (As cited by Clugston, 2010, 12.2) The use of personification brings into effect past, present and future. This different perspective allowed me to “see” what the mirror sees and not get involved in the emotions of the woman and how she views herself. The mirror and reflection are metaphors representing the exact truth. The mirror is "unmisted" by prejudice human "preconceptions" and reveals "only" the "truthful" viewpoints of the world right in front of it. The use of metaphor can also be found in the second stanza. “The eye of a little god, four cornered” (as cited by Clugston, 2010, section 12.2, line 5). The mirror associates itself with gods who are omniscient. A mirror is a small thing yet has a powerful and dominant hold on our lives. The reflection we see affects our confidence and attitude. In line 10 the mirror changes to a lake. “The woman bends over me. Searching my reaches for what she really is” (as cited by Clugston, 2010, section 12.2, lines 10-11). The woman is not happy with whom she sees or she cannot accept who she really is. The mirror calls the candles and the moon liars meaning they do not reflect her true self. The candles and moon soften her appearance in their reflection. In lines 13 and 14 we are shown how upset the woman is with her reflection and how important the mirror feels. The mirror knows no matter how unhappy the woman is she will always return for another glimpse of herself.
The last stanza brings the use of simile. “In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish” (As cited by Clugston, 2010, section 12.2, lines 15-18). The mirror has seen the woman age from a young girl to an old woman. The mirror sees the woman every morning as she looks with hope and despair. The reference to a fish is confusing. How does a fish relate to human reflection? As explained by Donna Richardson in her article Plath’s Mirror, the fish is a reflection of horrors within her. “A fish face is not only representative of physical ugliness in the woman’s appearance. The staring eyes and open mouth natural to a fish’s face convey, as a reflection of a human face, the woman’s moral state. The woman cannot close her eyes to what she is becoming.” Personification, metaphor and simile played a large role in holding my attention throughout the reading of this poem. I found it to be a sad and reflective piece indicative of the way women too often view themselves of being old and worthless.

Clugston, R.W. (2010). Journey into Literature, Section 12.2. Retrieved from
Richardson, D. (1991). Plath's mirror. The Explicator, 49(3), 193. Retrieved from…...

Similar Documents

Free Essay

Sylvia Plath’s Daddy

...Sylvia Plath’s Daddy The Holocaust has left a very painful and harsh trace in the lives of millions of people, and those who witnessed it at least circuitously would probably never forget the deadly scenes of brutal extermination of Jewish civilians. Sylvia Plath’s poem Daddy is a sorrowful piece of writing, which demonstrates her pain, her lament, and her cry for help through pictures of the Nazi regime and genocide. In reality, however, mantled under the disguise of Hitler and fascism are her father and her husband. Through multiple metaphors, Sylvia Plath depicts these two as her oppressors, who have been gradually ruining her life tenderly in turn. Thus, in her great poem Daddy, Silvia Plath shows her grief caused by oppression from her father, her husband, and the contemporary cultural environment. As the title of the poem goes – Daddy – this literary work is mainly about her father, who had obviously left her when Plath was still young. After he had left her, he had freed her from the symbolical “black shoe, in which [she had] lived like a foot for thirty years.” In addition, she associates her father with Hitler, saying that she had always been scared of him, and depicting his mustache and Aryan eyes. She had also referred to her father as a brute, which also proves that she had been oppressed by him. However, despite that oppression that she had been experiencing, she still missed him. The author writes, “I used to pray to recover you” and “at twenty I tried to......

Words: 622 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Tulips by Sylvia Plath

...Tulips by Sylvia Plath Tulips, by Sylvia Plath seems to be a poetic expression of depression. The speaker who I assume is Plath is describing the psychological effects after a surgical procedure,which I feel is the time when sadly Plath miscarried her baby. The poem was written through her own view in a hospital room, where the reader is given an insight to the inner thoughts of a woman who has gone through a terrible ordeal, and the objects around her which influence her mentality. The poem follows Plath's admission into hospital and the heart-rendering account of her attempt to recover. There are nine stanzas in the poem, each with five lines, there is no evident rhyme pattern and there is little structure to the poem, although the lack of organization in each stanza seems to be a reflection of the confusion and the loss of control that Plath feels, the only structure shared between the stanzas is the abundance of punctuation, creating a slow rhythm throughout the poem, although Plath uses alliteration to increase fluency in parts of the poem, “plastic-pillowed”, “water went” and “light lies on white walls”. Plaths tone is serene throughout the poem, however there is a sarcastic tone when she says “The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here”. The tone of the poem starts out as depressed and bleak then changes into more dynamic and hopeful and the imagery more surreal: “the mouth of some great African cat”. In the first two stanzas, Plath talks about the......

Words: 1017 - Pages: 5

Free Essay


...Mirror Rosalind Sledge ENG 125: Introduction to Literature Instructor Michelle Pinkard November 5, 2012 Mirror by Sylvia Plath is a poem that focuses on the purpose and existence of a mirror. The mirror is showed to be the speaker of the poem by in the beginning, describing itself and explaining its character as though it is human. One is able to feel emotion by understanding the important qualities it possesses. The mirror also metaphors itself as a lake and tells the important relationship it has with a woman. Women are drawn to mirrors searching for beauty but are often disappointed and turn their backs looking elsewhere. The mirror represents truth and is not intended to hurt or be cruel. This poem is very engaging by way of point of view, language, and imagery which helped to address a common human experience in how a woman sees herself. The point of view in a piece of literature work is very important in that it helps a reader to understand the narrator’s purpose of the story. The poem Mirror is told from a first person’s point of view in which the speaker is a mirror explaining what it reflects. In the first stanza, it states, “I have no preconceptions / Whatever I see, I swallow immediately / Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike” (cited in Clugston, 2010, Poems for Reflection, para. 13). By knowing the thoughts of the narrator, it allows a person to not only understand but to also feel the emotions portrayed within the story. While reading the poem,......

Words: 889 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Sylvia Plath- a Personal Response

...26.01.13 Dervla Hughes English, 5th Year Sylvia Plath- A Personal Response I found the poetry of Sylvia Plath to be deeply insightful and engaging. The emotional and psychological trauma Plath suffered throughout her life is evident in many of her poems, conveyed through the use of violent imagery and brutal honesty in her artistic voice, such as in the poem 'Mirror' in which she expresses her inner turmoil ''In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman''. The intimate nature of her poetry coupled with with the raw, emotional content dealing with the darker aspects of the human psyche, achieved through the use of psychic landscapes, were vital in allowing me to comprehend the extend of Plath's struggles, and subsequently, in enabling me to relate to the conflicting emotions depicted throughout her poetry and to feel a great level of empathy towards the agonizing suffering she endured throughout the course of her turbulent life. One of the primary struggles Plath faced as a woman, was a great sense of inadequacy, depicted throughout many of her poems such as 'Morning Song', in which she reveals, with startling honestly, the difficult transition she experienced in becoming a mother and the sense of neutrality she felt at the birth of her child. These emotions are displayed in the first stanza, through the use of a unique and unexpected simile to describe the newborn child ''Love set you going like a fat gold watch''. This simile is in reference to......

Words: 1785 - Pages: 8

Premium Essay

Conflicting Perspectives Ted Hughes' Birthday Letters Sylvia Plath's Ariel's Gift

...perspectives. A relationship between two successful people that finds its way into the public eye will always reveal conflicting perspectives. Think about TomKat or Branjelina, the media jumped on speculations and rumours about their relationships immediately. The same thing can be said about Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Hughes remained silent about their relationship until he published Birthday Letters (hereafter BL) in 1998, thirty five years after Plath’s death. BL is a suite of poetry which commemorates Plath, their life together and gives Hughes’ perspective. This can be contrasted with the views of Erica Wagner’s Ariel’s Gift (AG) and Sylvia Plath: The Poetics of Beekeeping by Frederike Haberkamp. AG attempts to make all sides of the story clear, allowing readers to make their own perspective of Hughes’ and Plath’s relationship. Wagner approaches the topic with an objective view to establish ideas and reveal the complex nature of their relationship by exposing the conflicting perspectives. Sylvia Plath: The Poetics of Beekeeping is a critical analysis of Plath’s life and literary works in reference to her relationship with her father and Ted Hughes. This analysis focuses on Plath’s poetry and her silence. By electing the form of an analysis and biography both Haberkamp and Wagner provide reliability and validity for their opinions, persuading readers to believe that their perspective is the truth. Wagner describes Birthday Letters as a confessional collection of......

Words: 1001 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

A Reflection in Sylvia Plath's Mirror

...A Reflection in Sylvia Plath’s Mirror Amanda L. Wilson Eng:125 Introduction to Literature Professor Lyndsey Lefebvre November 18, 2013 A Reflection in Sylvia Plath’s Mirror Sylvia Plath’s poem Mirror (1963) is evocative, provocative, and expressive. According to Clugston (2010) these are important components of poetry. Sylvia Plath’s first line is a projection of the mirror providing its introduction saying, “I am silver and exact”(Plath, 1963, line 1). The mirror is the protagonist who performs a dramatic monologue about the reflections it observes throughout the days and years of its life. The mirror’s identity awakens the reader to the identity of the woman which it sees, but the mirror not only sees the woman, it becomes her. William Freedman (1993) writes, in The Monster in Plath’s “Mirror”: The woman becomes a narrating reflector of herself as mirror and of whatever passes before it. She becomes the writer who writes of the mirror in which she perceives herself and of the mirror she is (pg 156). Plath develops the character of the mirror, and the woman this mirror observes, through the personification of the mirror. Plath’s Mirror, maneuvers through figurative language, free verse form, personification, and metaphor. The primary language of Mirror is figurative. Figurative language is defined by Clugston (2010) as “the use of words in ways they are not normally used in order to create a distinct imaginative effect or impression” (10.3). “I am......

Words: 1006 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

The Confessional Poet, Sylvia Plath

...Anita Stanford Searle English 102 Spring 2014 June 1, 2014 Paper 5 The Confessional Poet, Sylva Plath Sylva Plath was a pioneer who never got to see the results of her writings. She led a tormented life which was reflected in all her poems. She lost her father at age eight and never recovered from it. From the first to last of her published writings, Sylvia Plath what was later to be named as a confessional poet. This term did not exist while she was alive. Although she died at an early age, she has contributed much to the literary world. She had many confessional themes in her pieces. The main theme was resentment. The reading audience of her time was not a great change in which we looked at literature in a different light. No longer did it have to be fluff but literature could take a stance on current events or personal tragedies. People began to relate on a more intimate level. This sparked a new interest in literature. We will see how the term confessional poet relates to Sylvia Plath and how it applies to her poetry. A confessional poet by definition is a poet whose work lies in their own personal experiences. Sylvia used her life experiences to no so much relay her resentments about many of the injustices she felt in her life. She did not lay blame just expressed her emotions and opinions about certain times in her life. During the 1960’s, she was the first to do this and was not widely received at first. It was not until after her death that she was recognized for...

Words: 1370 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Mirror - Sylvia Plath

...Mirror – Sylvia Plath This poem is by Sylvia Plath and the narrator is a mirror. The mirror is personified and is endowed with many human traits. This poem is about a mirror that reflects only what it is shown and hence the role of the mirror is said to be the revealer of the reality and truthfulness. The mirror is also said to be faithful. The interesting features’ regarding this poem is how the poet changes tones between the two stanzas, which makes the ending impactful. In the first stanza, the mirror and its role is introduced. The mirror is lonely and its only companion is the wall of which it feels it has become a part of. The mirror shows us some of its human characteristics. However in the second stanza the poet brings in human life, a woman and it is also now a lake, which reflects the unsatisfied lady. The second stanza also shows the comparison of when the lady was young and now when she has become old. The factor of age is brought into the poem, which shows that the lady is getting old and that her reflection in the mirror is displeasing her. The woman turns to other objects such as “The candle” and “The moon” to which the author describes as “liars” which means that they don’t show her for who she really is. The author uses the candle as symbolism for life and the triumph over darkness. However the use of these objects could also represent how humans turn away from the actual truth and go seek something to which they might find more pleasant.......

Words: 350 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Sylvia Plath

...Born and raised in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts during the Great Depression, Sylvia Plath endured an oppressive and depressing childhood. On the surface, Plath appeared to be intelligent, sensitive, and flawless, but inside she was living in misery. Sylvia Plath's emotional life, and her arduous past with her father's death, her tragic break up with Ted Hughes, feminism, and bipolar disorder played an immense part in her career as a poet by inspiring her to create her somber masterpieces. Despite all her troubles, Sylvia Plath excelled as a student at Smith College, won awards, and prizes for her writing, and was a straight a student. Then, she met her future husband and ex-husband, Ted Hughes, whom she would have two children with. Sylvia Plath, was an extremely prodigious poet, she published her first poem, Circus in Three Rings, at age eight. By writing over 121 compelling poems and one stellar novel based on her life experiences, women's rights and injustices, she became the face of 20th century feminism. Sylvia Plath’s poetry is mainly about 20th century feminism and women’s social injustices. "The poem Daddy criticizes the male aggression and depicts men being responsible for all the social injustices" (Hunt). In Sylvia Plath's versification Daddy, she illustrates how men are dominant over women, by comparing herself to Jews, and men to the Nazis. “I may be a bit of a Jew. I have always been scared of you” (Plath, "Daddy"). She outlines how women are a minority, and......

Words: 1042 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay


...What Hides Behind the Mirror? If you were to tell me to pick an object that represents what I am today, I would not be able to; I feel that I am still growing and developing as a person. At this point, I do not really know what I am or what I represent. I can surely though pick out an object that represents certain time period in my life. As weird as it might sound, I find that a mirror would best represent this time in my life. While getting ready to start my day every morning, it beings about the same way. Being the upstanding citizen that I am, I get up when my alarm goes off..kidding after hitting snooze a million times . I open my closet to pick out my outfit for the day, being careful not to swing open the closet door too hard and send my mirror crashing to the floor. After I get dressed, I take a look in the mirror every day. I don’t do this because I want to see how I look; it is more of a reminder that I am happier than I was a couple months ago. My forced, pseudo smile that was once paired with teary, glassy eyes has transformed into an authentic one. I don’t see any bruises on my skin anymore. Most importantly, the bruises on my skin have faded along with the puffiness around my eyes. When I look in the mirror I see self growth and progress. For some odd reason, this mirror is special to me. This mirror saw me go through a very ugly stage in my life. If you were to enter my room you would not know I had it because it remains hidden most of the time. It is only......

Words: 1072 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Mirror Essay

...Mirror essay The mirror is a wisely chosen symbol that stands for the objective representation of the truth. As Plath mentions:” I have no preconceptions…I am not cruel, only truthful.” In fact, the mirror reflects the author’s subconscious, which is freed by the purity and truthfulness the mirror. The mirror has no magic power in it, but simply portrays the reality to those who use it. “It swallows” the true image just the way it is without any prejudice, unlike the humans that see things distorted through the lenses of their inner bias. We can observe an interesting usage of the figures of speech in the poem. The mirror is not only a symbol, but it is also a personification, because the mirror tells us the story from its standpoint. Therefore, the symbol of the truth tells us a story of the unbiased reality it has to portray to those who seek answers in it. Sylvia Plath was a representative of a confessional poetry genre. She herself was that woman looking in the mirror. That mirror exposed her to much pain through its honesty. She is scared of that true image of herself getting older as the days go by That is why she turns to lake, but the lake does not want to lie to her either. Even that she detests her own reflection, she still becomes dependent on the truth the lake gives her. Therefore, closer to the end of the poem you can see that kind of relationship were it says "I am important to her. She comes and goes." Metaphorically Plath calls the moon and the candles......

Words: 660 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Sylvia Plath's "Lady Lazarus"

...Sylvia Plath’s “Lady Lazarus” There is no doubt that Sylvia Plath is definitely one of the most diverse controversial poets of our time. Sylvia Plath was born October 27, 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts and unfortunately passed away on February 11, 1963 in London, England due to her battle with suicide. The poem relates to her life and also her perspective of the world. As a matter of fact, critics often characterized her as “extreme,” due to the deep emotional issues that she would write about. As time has passed, Plath is often referred to as a “cult figure.” “Lady Lazarus” is one of Plath’s most popular works. To make it simple this poem is about death and her suicidal experiences. (Sanazaro) “Lady Lazarus” by Sylvia Plath is a very complex poem. Sylvia Plath wrote this intense poem during her most fruitful and imaginative period. “Lady Lazarus” has been a topic of a lot of literary criticism since it was published. It is mostly understood as a collection of Plath’s thoughts, suicidal efforts and urges. (“SYLVIA LADY LAZARUS REVISITED”) The tone in this poem veers between threatening and scornful; it draws attention to itself for its use of Holocaust imagery, reading this poem anybody could figure out that the character and even Plath is not happy with her life and obviously has some deep emotional resentment that unfortunately she never got to resolve. In 1970, M. L. Rosenthal wrote an essay entitled “Sylvia Plath and Confessional Poetry” for Charles’ Newman’s......

Words: 1281 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Women Empowerment – a Reflection in the Poems of “Mumbai Mirror” Eunice de Souza

...Women Empowerment – A Reflection in the ------------------------------------------------- Poems of “Mumbai Mirror” Eunice De Souza Mrs.A MATHINI1, R.EZHILARASI2* 1 Assistant Professor, Dept. of English, SCSVMV University, Enathur, Kancheepuram (India). ------------------------------------------------- 2 Research Scholar, Dept. of English, SCSVMV University, Enathur, Kancheepuram (India). INTRODUCTION: Women’s Empowerment is a global issue in determining the status of women. The position and status of women all over the world has risen incredibly in the 20th century. It may be because of the awareness among women. We know that it has been very low in 18th & 19th centuries in India and other Countries. Women were treated like “objects”. In the name of marriage they can be bought and sold. Their dependence on men folk was total. But now women started to learn the possible ways to be independent in the society. Their monetary independence led them to the way to empowerment. Robert Blood (1965) observes, “Employment emancipates women from domination by their Husbands and secondarily, raises their Daughters from inferiority to their Brothers” (Blood and Wolfe, 1965). According to Dr. Nafi’s Sadik, the former Executive Director of UNFPA “Women are the heart of development”. Women are the agent to bring about better lives for billions of people in the developing countries as well as developed countries to bring sustainable development. The......

Words: 1311 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Sylvia Plath

...SYLVIA PLATH Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer. She is widely recognized as one of the most important American poets of the twentieth century. Her best-known poems are carefully crafted pieces noted for their personal imagery and intense focus. Many concern such themes as alienation, death, and self-destruction. Her vivid imagery, searing tone, and intimate topics cemented her place among the pantheon of great poets. Best known for novel The Bell Jar and her second volume of poetry, Ariel, Plath's reputation has only grown since her death in 1963. She is considered a poet of the confessional movement, which was led by Robert Lowell, but her work transcends this label and speaks to more universal truths than simply her own emotions. Although the sensational nature of her death by suicide has led some critics and readers to conflate the value of her life and art, Sylvia Plath's poetry demonstrates an astonishing capacity to engage with the art of poetry; many of her words and images have become fully entrenched in the literary consciousness. EARLY LIFE Sylvia Plath was born on October 27, 1932 in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts to Aurelia Schobert Plath (American of Austrian descent) and Otto Emile Plath (immigrant from Grabow, Germany). Her father was a biology and German professor at Boston University. He was also an author of a book based on bumblebees. There was a stark age difference between Plath’s parents, her mother being twenty one......

Words: 3041 - Pages: 13

Free Essay

Sylvia Plath Mieeoe

...Tuesday, February 16, 2016 ENG4U1 Thexton Analysis of Mirror The poem “Mirror” written by Sylvia Plath identifies the woman’s physical complexities of her beauty that becomes transparent within the mirror. The woman in the poem is getting older, and while she is aging, the mirror goes on watching the process. In the poem, the woman is realizing that she is getting older and that she is losing her natural beauty. The woman is a narcissus because she believes that speaking to the mirror would reveal the truth. The woman has discovered that her physical appearance is changing and she cannot come to face the terms due to the fact that her reflection is aging. The woman’s reflection is observed in the mirror where communication commences between the mirror and the woman. The mirror is candid towards the woman, who is oblivious to the truth about her beauty. Sylvia Plath uses personification to display the human attributes such as truthfulness. “I have no preconceptions. I am not cruel, only truthful” (Plath l 4). The quotation illustrates that the mirror is speaking to the woman and the woman does not have any preconceptions. It displays that the mirror is an inanimate object. The mirror demonstrates truthfulness, not cruelty. The mirror speaks the truth whether it is good or bad, because the mirror does not lie. Visual imagery is portrayed in the poem because it displays an insight of what the woman sees in the mirror. “Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me. I see her......

Words: 750 - Pages: 3