How Far Is A Femminist Reading Useful In Analysing 'mirror' By Sylvia Plath?

956 words - 4 pages

Sylvia Plath's poem, ''Mirror,” represents the disturbed self of the woman, The mirror signifies the unsympathetic male view of a woman and what is socially expected of her: having a flawless beauty and perpetual youth.
As the persona ages over the years, the mirror maliciously reflects the alterations in her appearance. Age becomes the persona’s flaw and inadequacy and consequently her foundation of anxiety and alarm. The mirror projects what is thought of the woman as she grows older. It claims to reflect the truth, and by insinuation, the patriarchal perception of a woman’s existence, her value only as a beautiful entity, and her insignificance when she is no longer youthful and ...view middle of the document...

She rewards me with tears and agitation of hands (Plath 1981:173-74)
The consequence of this search is the persona’s inert existence and her powerlessness to confirm her own identity. This indicates the complete elimination of the woman’s true identity and the confirmation of an enforced identity, a desensitised version of self, a repressed acknowledgment of the male view. It refutes the woman any amount of self-awareness to face her normal aging process realistically. So, the mirror not only shows the woman’s loss of youth and beauty, but it also implies her loss of the power to express her identity in her own terms against a dictated perception of bodily appearance.
While the mirror is adamant on its authentic refection of the woman’s appearance, the woman is searching for her inner self, a pursuit unfeelingly dismissed by the mirror which boasts of its power over her: “I am important to her.” The woman’s helpless reliance on the mirror’s definition of her identity produces the source of difficulty for the persona’s search for independence. However, the woman is intensely aware of her present state of being: “In me an old woman / Rises toward her day after day like a terrible fish.” Only by moving past the critical gaze of the masculine perception can the woman advance towards the development of an independent self.
“Mirror” was composed in 1961, just before Plath’s twenty-ninth birthday. The cleverly calm tone of the poem hides the violence intrinsic in the images and theme of the poem. At the centre of this hostility lies the persona’s struggle with the mirror’s control over her identity. The mirror asserts objectivity and rationality by confirming that it reflects precisely what it sees. However, its reflection is parallel to the patriarchal view of the woman’s existence. Thus, the persona is forced to see her reflection as...

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