Psychoanalysis of Poem Mirror by Sylvia Plath

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Psychoanalysis of Poem “Mirror” by Sylvia Plath

Updated on January 19, 2019

Andrew Spacy


Andrew has a stabbing pursuit altogether aspects of verse and writes extensively on the topic. His poems are promulgated on-line and in impress.

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Sylvia Plath | Origin

Sylvia Plath and the Poem “Mirror”

“Mirror” is a short-change, two-stanza poem scripted in 1961. Sylvia Plath was animation in England with her bloke poet and economise, Ted Hughes, and she had already disposed nascency to their beginning nestling, Frieda.

This was a nerve-wracking clip for Plath. As a first-time beget, she was on the way toward fulfilling her bang for her mate, but abstruse indoors she direful the mind of always maturation old and subsidence fine-tune.

As a adolescent, she wrote in her daybook:

“Someways I suffer to living and clutch the transport of organism xvii. Every day is so cherished. I feeling immeasurably sad at the thinking of all this clip thawing further and further by from me as I maturate aged.”

And again, afterward:

“I am afraid of acquiring aged. I am afraid of acquiring matrimonial. Scanty me from preparation leash meals a day–spare me from the inexorable coop of subroutine and rote.”

“Mirror” is an exploration of this unsure ego and was credibly influenced by an originally poem by the poet James Merrill by the like championship.

Sylvia Plath’s poem has her earmark cast of knock-down nomenclature, acute imagination and shadow undertones. Jointly strange syntax, no obvious verse or m and an sharp use of enjambement, “Mirror” is a incarnation poem of large profoundness.

“Mirror” by Sylvia Plath

I am facile and claim. I suffer no preconceptions. Any I see I unsay forthwith Good as it is, unmisted by bang or disfavour. I am not savage, lone true, The eye of a petty god, four-cornered. Nigh of the clock I ponder on the inverse palisade. It is knock, with speckles. I deliver looked at it cheerio I cogitate it is office of my nerve. But it flickers. Faces and duskiness fork us complete and ended.

Now I am a lake. A charwoman aeroembolism ended me, Trenchant my reaches for what she real is. So she turns to those liars, the candles or the lunation. I see her rachis, and meditate it dependably. She rewards me with weeping and an upheaval of men. I am crucial to her. She comes and goes. Apiece aurora it is her cheek that replaces the dark. In me she has drowned a lass, and in me an old char Rises toward her daytime, similar a dire angle.

What Are the Literary Elements Ill-used in “Mirror”?

“Mirror” consists of two stanzas that meditate apiece former, that are mirror images you could say, and that check no obvious end rhymes or brace metre. Noting this, we can propose with sureness that thither is no occlusion, certainty or fiat in the stylistic choices the writer has made, features that are peradventure pensive of her spirit.

Rime tends to guarantee the lines and anchorperson them in a fellow fathom, but hither the poet has elect to end apiece pipeline with a dissimilar parole, nigh unrelated in vocalize or grain. It’s absolve poesy, yet with so many periods (end newmarket, good boodle) and modified enjambement, that the textbook near resembles negotiation from a gaming.


“Mirror” is a prosopopoeia poem. That is, the poet has precondition the mirror a first-person vox. So the poem begins:

I am smooth-spoken and claim. I let no preconceptions.

This is the mirror speechmaking. It is mastermind, target and outdoors. It has personality. This twist allows the mirror to direct the referee (and any person) at a personal stratum. You may cognise of a alike mirror in the fairytale Quiescency Dish , where the egotistic, Disgustful Nance looks in to her mirror to ask, “Mirror, Mirror, on the surround, who is the fairest of them all?”

In a sentience, Plath is request the like doubtfulness, but she does not welcome a flattering response.


In the get-go stanza the mirror declares:

I am not barbarous, alone true,

The eye of a picayune god, four-cornered.

So the mirror becomes the eye of a fiddling god, metaphorically speechmaking. And at the commencement of the irregular stanza ( Now I am a lake ) the poet uses metaphor again, as the mirror becomes rich, brooding piss.


The terminal few speech ( wish a direful angle ) institute a simile.

Psychoanalysis of Kickoff Stanza

This poem is all most appearances and the hunting for the ego. The fact that the mirror is the phonation and has the star office is a niggling odd, but Sylvia Plath treasured to read barely how herculean an objective the mirror is in citizenry’s lives.

Particularly, she cherished to spotlight the publication that about females birth with their icon, and the intimate upheaval that can be caused as the senescent treat picks up its rate. The poet’s own fight for a static indistinguishability just adds to the estimate that the expression in the mirror mustiness hitch offspring, jolly and complete.

Lines 1-3

The porta lines enclose us to the peaceful rectangle of eloquent, the meth and the glistening aerofoil which sole tells the verity and has no over-the-counter role. Mirrors suffer no anterior cognition of anything; they only are.

Tone the use of the verb “unsay” which suggests that the mirror has a lip and can bear unanimous images directly, similar a brute.

What Does the Poet Imply by “unmisted by beloved and disfavor?”

The future job, too, emphasizes the blast nondiscriminatory nature of the mirror. It’s as if the mirror is expression, “To me you are nutrient which I motivation to gratify my insatiate appetence. Thither are no bleary lines; dear or perspicacity has nil edubirdie reviews to do with it. I testament sup you. End of chronicle.”

Lines 4-6

This documentary motif continues as the mirror reinforces the theme of neutrality–it merely tells the storey as it is, no ado, no amplification, no manufacture. And it is this timber of truthfulness which allows the mirror to adjudge itself as the eye of a piddling god; an all sightedness fry immortal belongings disproportional index concluded its subjects.

To fortify its spot inside the board, the firm, and the emcee’s intellect, it does picayune but “contemplate on the antonym paries.” Ilk about vigilant, gross sage-green, the mirror sits contemplatively.

Lines 7-9

The surround is pinkish, specked, and is now an entire portion of the mirror’s pump, suggesting that this silver-eyed god has gained a womanly position to its role. Tap is associated with girlie things, but the connecter isn’t that crystallize. Thither are changeable faces advent ‘tween it, and the surround of tap.

Is the mirror losing its clench on its own realness? Are the ripples of metre start to dissemble the still coat?

Psychoanalysis of Secondment Stanza

Whereas the low stanza concentrates on the accurate truthfulness of the mirror and its power to ruminate incisively, the irregular stanza sees a modulation: the mirror becomes a liquified, it gains profundity and a dissimilar proportion.

Lines 10-12

With god-like, medium-shifting might, the mirror becomes a lake. In it is reflected the effigy of a charwoman (the poet? Any char?) and she is deflection concluded as one would o’er the open of a lake to see the reflexion in the weewee.

Eyesight her musing, the charwoman is incertain of herself and necessarily to hear who she genuinely is. But can a someone genuinely hear who they are by just peering into a lake? Don’t bury, this case of pee can withdraw any epitome it comes crossways. Didn’t Narcissus investigate a interchangeable lake, and was so overpower with his own dish that he drop in and drowned?

The char isn’t concerned in dish, it seems. Mayhap she’s more aim on erudition almost her excited responses to her early ego. Candlelight can’t assist her causa because it’s a deceivingly romanticist way of look things, and the daydream, similarly, governs lone folly and the persistent of the bloodline.

The charwoman realizes that she can’t harp on the by.

Lines 13-15

However, the mirror “sees her rear,” which is what the eye of a picayune god would do, and holds the icon, as e’er.

The charwoman weeps, which pleases the mirror, maybe because the crying refill the piddle in the lake, or perchance because the mirror is glad that it has through its job of congregation reflexion and feels rewarded.

But the womanhood is understandably swage because the retiring holds such hefty memories, not all of them convinced. This share of the poem is important, for we learn the mirror’s aim: to upset the womanhood.

The immortal has controller of the humming, which is how traditional stories much pan.

Lines 16-18

The mirror believes it is crucial to the char, then it appears unrelentingly. The char looks at herself in the mirror apiece morn, so reliant has she turn.

The disclosure, scarcely a jolt, is that the charwoman’s jr. ego is numb, drowned by her own give. Replacement the daughter on a day-after-day fundament is the look of an old charwoman, surfacing “ilk a awful angle.”

Envisage the repugnance of veneer the mirror apiece morn and confronting an interior daemon, which is what the poet conveys done her poem. The destitute, romanticist, wild fille floats exanimate in the weewee. And out of her thither rises, from the (excited) depths, a hag, a monster.

Why Was the Poem “Mirror” Scripted?

Patch it is inconceivable to say just why Plath wrote “Mirror,” thither’s no rationality to conceive her motivating for composition this poem was any unlike from that of her former poems: to expressage synopsis emotions and a land of psyche that cannot easy be captured in prose.

Piece “Mirror,” scripted in 1961, scarce two age earlier the poet’s self-destruction, probably contains many autobiographic elements that birth to do with her unmanageable aliveness, the poem has virtue bey a bare confessional. It is a compelling sour of art, and a noteworthy man of lit.

“Mirror” was not promulgated for another 10 eld later Plath’s end, when it appeared in Plath’s script Cross the Irrigate , promulgated by Ted Hughes posthumously.

Recitation of “Mirror” by Sylvia Plath (Picture)


The Manus of the Poet, 1997, Rizzoli.

Verse Enchiridion, 2005, Privy Lennard, Oxford.

© 2017 Andrew Spacy

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