Essay by merali November 2014

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Presented to us is a poem written by Sylvia Plath in 1961. This poem named « mirror » is split into two stanzas of nearly equal length: 9 and then 10 lines with one word-long line 'woman'(which actually portrays the importance of feminity). It is written in free verse, which means that it has no set pattern of rhythm or rhyme. Yet, while Plath makes her lines have no repeating pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables, these lines are still read gracefully and naturally. We can also notice an alternation between short and long sentences; and many pauses are provided by periods and commas, which overall gives the impression of a slow rhythm.

Throughout the poem we can distinguish multiple lexical fields : the lexical field of sight 'I see; I have looked at; I see' and of feelings 'love; dislike; cruel' as well as body: 'my heart; hands; eye'. Furthermore, we have an opposition of mind and soul, of reality 'exact; unmisted; truthful; reflect it faithfully' and illusion 'those liars, the candles or the moon'.

Concerning the tone of the poem, it starts like a riddle 'I am silver and exact.', and gives this light and playful tone but then it becomes more solemn, dark 'faces and darkness' until the last line 'like a terrible fish' which conveys the despair of the woman tied to her fear of getting old

The poem is peculiar because it is seen by the point of view of a mirror. This mirror has a lot of human-like qualities, which keep the reader interested. In addition, the speaker's voice remains the same throughout the poem, although it changes in form between the first and second stanza from a mirror to a lake.
Indeed we can see the mirror...