Mirror by Sylvia Plath


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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

  1. 1. Mirror Sylvia Plath Carol Wolff
  2. 2. Sylvia’s Life
  3. 3. Her Life <ul><li>Sylvia was born on October 27, 1932 in Newton, Massachusetts. </li></ul><ul><li>She married Hughes on June 16, 1956 </li></ul>
  4. 5. Her Life <ul><li>Sylvia and Ted had two children Frieda and Nicholas (1960, 1962) </li></ul><ul><li>1962 She learned of Ted’s infidelity and they separated. </li></ul><ul><li>Committed suicide on February 11, 1963 . </li></ul>
  5. 6. Mirror 1 st Stanza <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  6. 7. 2 nd Stanza <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  7. 8. Writing Style <ul><li>Written in first person </li></ul><ul><li>Use of simple sentences </li></ul><ul><li>Very few adjectives due to use of metaphors </li></ul><ul><li>Use of Personification </li></ul>
  8. 9. Analysis Stanza I <ul><li>Addressed by an inanimate object </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sets out to define itself and its function </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Has no preconceptions because it is without memory or ability to reason. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It is omnivorous – swallows everything it confronts without making judgments that might blur, mist, or distort. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 10. <ul><li>It is god-like in its objectivity and incapability of emotional response. </li></ul><ul><li>Most of the time it meditates on the opposite wall, faithfully reproducing its colors and design until darkness intrudes or intervenes </li></ul>
  10. 11. Analysis Stanza II <ul><li>The mirror becomes a perfectly reflecting lake, unruffled by any disturbance </li></ul><ul><li>A Woman bends over the lake like the mythical Narcissus. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No matter how deeply she searches, she sees only her actuality or surface truth. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unlike Narcissus, the speaker cannot fall in love with what she sees. </li></ul></ul>
  11. 12. <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  12. 13. <ul><li>Unhappy by what she sees, she weeps and wrings her hands. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The youth and beauty once reflected during her morning visits are drowned in the metaphorical depths of the lake. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What slowly emerges from those depths is the terrifying fact that she is aging. </li></ul></ul>
  13. 14. Narcissus (mythology ) <ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissus_(mythology) </li></ul>
  14. 15. Self-centeredness <ul><li>The mythical Narcissus alienated himself not only from other   people but from the nonhuman beings and presences of the natural   world. </li></ul><ul><li>Gazing into a beautiful pond he saw merely his personal   reflection and absolutely nothing of nature. </li></ul>
  15. 16. <ul><li>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.   </li></ul><ul><li>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.   </li></ul><ul><li>We have the chance to be renegades.  The mirrors we use are held to our souls – not to our faces. </li></ul><ul><li>http://righteousmonster.com/blogs/bodie/august/land-narcissus </li></ul>Carol Wolff
  16. 17. Ponder this Quotation (Ovid 464) <ul><li>“ 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.” </li></ul><ul><li>Publius Ovidius Naso   </li></ul><ul><li>(20 March 43 BCE – 17 or 18 CE), known as  Ovid   </li></ul>