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Sylvia Plath

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Added by: Lisa G.
I'm assuming this poem is biographical, since much of Plath's best and most-read work is.

Plath does not see the old woman yet. She expects to see it, however, and is frightened by that expectation, just as anyone might be.

Viewing herself each day in the mirror, Plath can see quite plainly that she is getting older. In the mirror she sees the face of an old woman very gradually materializing before her, sort of like one might look into a lake and discern a fish in its depths rising to the surface.

I think she used the word "terrible" before fish just to convey the terror she felt at seeing the face come toward her. I don't think she was saying she actually looked like an ugly fish.

I think a lot of people are seeing a lot more in the "mirror" than what is actually there. To me it's a very straightforward poem.
Added by: Elyn
I cant believe what 'Jennie" wrote! she has absolutly nooo idea about how depressed this girl was. She wasnt a rock star, she isnt just writing this poem to be 'whiny', this is how she feels. How can anyone disagree and be so ignorant about feelings. This poem is an excellent example of confessional poetry, meaning, she is confessing how she feels about herself. To be so ignorant and to comapre her to a whiny rock-star is beyond me.
Added by: sage
I think people have taken the last three lines of the poem, refering to her age, into account a little too much. Yes, the poem may very well speak of Plath's emotional battle with aging but I believe this to have a deeper relation to life that getting old. I think that Plath may be talking about a woman (possibly herself) and her desperate longing to find her true self.

In the first stanza it is simply describing the qualities of the mirror, how it is just as it is and how it sees the truth free of bias or preconceptions. It is also brought to life with personifications which offer the reader more emotion towards the mirror.

In the secind stanza, a woman is intorduced. "Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me, Searching for my reaches for what she really is." I think these are very important lines because this is where we begin to feel the true nature of this woman. "Now I am a lake..." the mirror might actually be broken (how it is scattered about the floor) and "searching for my reaches..." the woman is desperately trying to piece the shattered glass together, wanting to see her reflection, her true self. The candles and the moon are 'liars' because they are both sources of light and sometimes give false images (illusions). Now, in the last two lines, Plath may be trying to say that she has finally given closure to her young self (willingly or not) and has accepted her life as it is, empty and unmoving. Knowing that after the moon sets, the sun rises, as does she.
Added by: em
ok, so i have to do this poem for like an assignment and its not fun. i saw that movie sylvia and i hated it. but this website has helped a little bit i guess. in the first stanza she just describes the mirror right? and the second stanza is all about how she's like old and doesn't like it. well didnt that sylvia woman have depression? i htink its definitly about her coz like, its quite depressing. i really don't get that bit about the fish? and all the people that say its ugly or whatever and she thinks its her, really confused me!1 help me with my assignment!!
Added by: Amanda
Mirror is about Plath feeling she doesn't fit into conventional 50's society - the Eisenhower America. She is a 'mirror' of the qualities 50's society admired - All-American girl - beautiful, clever, docile, flawless. But the 'mirror' has hidden depths ('now I am a lake') where the young girl society admires so is 'drowned', and instead an 'old woman' - or soemone with an 'interesting' face, let's say, and all the qualities associated with age - cantankerousness, depression about life (best years of life gone etc), which would appal society, rises from her depths, and soon Plath will no longer be able to conceal that side of her which will so disturb society. her own darkness even frightens herself - the 'terrible' fish is evdence of that.

Just my view on it.
Added by: emilyr
I think this poem is comparable to that of the process of writing poetry. The woman in the poem depends on the mirror for her self image and identity, as does the poet towards his/her works. There is the obvious link between the "Now i an a lake" and the line"rises towards her her day after day like a terrible fish" because, the lake is portrayed as a very still surface that can reflect (so its the mirror) and the terrible fish is so shocking and the shock the woman feels when she looks in the mirror (the "lake") relates to the shock that you would feel if you were looking at a lake and a terrible fish came out at you.

Anyway, i have my exam this afternoon, and its on three of Plaths poems regarding the process of writing poetry relating to womens experiences!!!
Added by: chasey
after studying poetry anthology at school, i found this poem to be the most depressing of them ALL, and i love it! i can really relate to what Plath is describing. i think it is cool the way she portrays her feelings through the mirror. not so great about the 'terrable fish' though i think fish are the cutest things on earth and shouldn't be used to resemble old age!
Added by: pheobe
In this poem, "Mirror", i really think sylvia is really making it clear her feelings. The hole idea of a mirror is that you either like them, or not.Its a fact.
In the first stanza, "i am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions" is the starting line. When she says I, does she mean herself? or is that a personification? the idea of no preconceptions is mainly due to the fact that a mirror IS NOT human, it DOES NOT have human feelings and so is not a friend or foe. "I am not cruel, only truthful-" conveying that the mirror can not change YOUR reflection to suit YOU, it continues on from the preconceptions because the mirror cant like or dislike a person, it is given an image and has no choice but to reflect it. At the end of the 1st stanza she says " faces & darkness separate us over and over". its clear from this, that the mirror feels its reflecting endless images, never changing images that bore it.
In the 2nd stanza however, the mirror personifies as a lake. Most people view lakes a pools of emotions so it is no wonder Plath chose this metaphor. "Searching my reaches for what she really is" shows us that Plath herself could of been the mirror looking in on herself, or that she herself could of been looking in on the mirror. "She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands" shows that the image reflected upsets the person looking in, yet the mirror sees it as a "reward". almost as if the mirror feels power over here- it can make her upset and cry. The last line of the second stanza really makes an impact just as I imagine Plath would of wanted: "Like a terrible fish". This similaye is quite frightening, the idea of a horrible, ugly, terrifying fish staring back at you as you look at your reflection is quite haunting, do you agree?
I really believe Sylvia Plath was a great poet, her poetry conveys soo many varied emotions with strong imagery that you can't help but love her poems, shame that her emotions got the best of her in the end.
Added by: priyanka,india
Though short and aparrently simple,"Mirror" is a fairly complex poemwhich presents two themes:one,the contrast between the unchanging solidity of the mirror and the the foolish anxiety or insecurity of the woman who looat her reflectionin it,and two,the destructive power of time.
The woman in the poem may not exactly a representative of her gender,although male chauvinists would love to argue that women are more self-conscious and conceited than men and therefore more desirous of preserving their youthful beauty.She represents the whole human being in general and the sorrow at the loss of looks stands for human beings'and craving for permanent youth
Added by: Ryan
Sylvia Plath's poem Mirror is pretty tough to understand. Right now im sitting at home reading my assignment for some 8th grade honors H/W...weeee.......first reading the poem i thought that she was talking about a fish," Whatever i see i swallow imediatly", and "meditate on something pink and speckled (possably a worm?)

Anyway, a year after righting this poem i guess she broke up with this guy...then commited suicide. I read on this one website that by her suicide she was trying to show what you can accomplish on your own......THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SUICIDE!!!

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