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Sylvia Plath’s Mirror Essay

1852 words - 7 pages

“Mirror,” by Sylvia Plath is a poem about the terrible difficulty of truth, especially the inexorable process of age and time. The context of old age is explored in this poem. One of the key devices of the poem includes the speaker or persona of the poem that Plath has chosen to explore the context. The mirror sees the woman examining herself in her day by day. It is a known fact that the mirror thinks that it is precise in its judgment. The very language that the mirror uses displays a matter-of-fact that the mirror is correct in its judgment: “I am silver and exact.” Yet, interestingly, it also says it is “unmisted by love or dislike” although; this statement is doubted later on when the mirror refers to the moon and the candles as “liars.” In a metaphorical way, Plath makes it noticeable that she is a reflection of her parents and she is constantly being separated from them. Sylvia Plath’s poem “Mirror” reflects many different ideas and thoughts. Her poem is dark, full of unhappiness, and only views the world from a pessimistic perspective. Given Plath’s background, it is understandable the poem is full of dark ideas and wild nightmares. In this specific poem, Plath uses imagery, personification, metaphors and expresses all of her emotions that were intended to be placed in this poem which are reviewed by critics.
The poetic devices that are used in this poem, as stated by critics are described. Personification is immensely used in this poem, which is a special kind of comparison, closely related to metaphor that gives life or human characteristics to inanimate objects or abstract ideas (Kirzner 767). Imagery is a language that evokes a physical sensation produced by one or more of the five senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell (Kirzner 754). An allusion is a reference to a person, place or even (fictional or actual) that readers are expected to recognize (Kirzner 859). A metaphor is an imaginative comparison between two unlike items, it does not use like or as. As an example when it says “a is b” it is a metaphor (Kirzner 767). When poets use allusion, they assume that they and their readers share a common body of knowledge (Kirzner 859).
Ryland Drennan, a critic from Washington, DC in Popular World Fiction states the “Mirror” by Sylvia Plath contains a wide amount of personification and imagery which helps the poem “pop out” to the reader (Drennan 1184). “The use of personification helps a person get the full emotion and effect from the piece of writing” Drennan says. Plath expresses personification from the very first line “I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.” She is speaking as if she, herself were a mirror, so the mirror is describing itself as a person. Another good example is when she writes “most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall,” illustrating as if the mirror is speaking to the reader. Furthermore, the saying is a human mannerism; the mirror is taking in a human habit. In the second...

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