Mirror by Sylvia Plath
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Mirror by Sylvia Plath



A brief synopsis of Sylvia’s life. The poem “Mirror” and an analysis of the poem. The mythical Narcissus.

A brief synopsis of Sylvia’s life. The poem “Mirror” and an analysis of the poem. The mythical Narcissus.



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Mirror by Sylvia Plath Mirror by Sylvia Plath Presentation Transcript

  • Mirror Sylvia Plath Carol Wolff
  • Sylvia’s Life
  • Her Life
    • Sylvia was born on October 27, 1932 in Newton, Massachusetts.
    • She married Hughes on June 16, 1956
  • Her Life
    • Sylvia and Ted had two children Frieda and Nicholas (1960, 1962)
    • 1962 She learned of Ted’s infidelity and they separated.
    • Committed suicide on February 11, 1963 .
  • Mirror 1 st Stanza
    • I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions. What ever you 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.
  • 2 nd Stanza
    • 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.
  • Writing Style
    • Written in first person
    • Use of simple sentences
    • Very few adjectives due to use of metaphors
    • Use of Personification
  • Analysis Stanza I
    • Addressed by an inanimate object
      • Sets out to define itself and its function
      • Has no preconceptions because it is without memory or ability to reason.
      • It is omnivorous – swallows everything it confronts without making judgments that might blur, mist, or distort.
    • It is god-like in its objectivity and incapability of emotional response.
    • Most of the time it meditates on the opposite wall, faithfully reproducing its colors and design until darkness intrudes or intervenes
  • Analysis Stanza II
    • The mirror becomes a perfectly reflecting lake, unruffled by any disturbance
    • A Woman bends over the lake like the mythical Narcissus.
      • No matter how deeply she searches, she sees only her actuality or surface truth.
      • Unlike Narcissus, the speaker cannot fall in love with what she sees.
    • The candles and moon to which the woman turns are liars capable of lending untruthful shadows and romantic highlights – unlike the lake surface/mirror, which renders only faithful images.
    • Unhappy by what she sees, she weeps and wrings her hands.
      • The youth and beauty once reflected during her morning visits are drowned in the metaphorical depths of the lake.
      • What slowly emerges from those depths is the terrifying fact that she is aging.
  • Narcissus (mythology )
    • In the various stories he is exceptionally cruel, in that he disdains those who love him. As divine punishment he falls in love with a reflection in a pool, not realizing it was his own, and perishes there, not being able to leave the beauty of his own reflection.
    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissus_(mythology)
  • Self-centeredness
    • The mythical Narcissus alienated himself not only from other   people but from the nonhuman beings and presences of the natural   world.
    • Gazing into a beautiful pond he saw merely his personal   reflection and absolutely nothing of nature.
    • Without any intention of doing so, the mythical Narcissus provides each of us with a warning.  His eternal self-obsession cautions us against such self-centeredness.  
    • We live in a culture that rewards and encourages such selfishness.  Focus on self-interest is encouraged.  Every commercial is a chance to buy a new mirror – an offer of some new way to serve ourselves.  As pilgrims passing through this world, we will walk through the land of Narcissus.  
    • We have the chance to be renegades.  The mirrors we use are held to our souls – not to our faces.
    • http://righteousmonster.com/blogs/bodie/august/land-narcissus
    Carol Wolff
  • Ponder this Quotation (Ovid 464)
    • “ Am I the lover or beloved? Then why make love?  Since I am what I long for, then my riches are so great they make me poor.”
    • Publius Ovidius Naso  
    • (20 March 43 BCE – 17 or 18 CE), known as  Ovid