Poetry and Persona
Mirror by Sylvia Plath
1. This poem is about reality and reflection. The persona is actually a mirror, talking, personified, and obviously feminine in gender. Although the mirror says she is like “a god,” it feels more like she is a “goddess,” because, she is very appreciative of her surroundings. The poem talks about how a mirror can be, in the same time, static and changing. First, the mirror is stuck on a wall, with no feelings and rather shallow since only the opposite wall reflects in it. In the second half of the poem however, the mirror changes, its depth becomes like a lake in which you can see the passing of the years and the connection it has with its owner, the woman who was a girl and is now moving towards old age.
2. The persona in “Nurture” is probably a middle-aged woman who lives alone and has many pets which she probably rescued. She probably doesn’t have children, since she says she has a “surplus,” of motherly genes, therefore maybe her genes were never put to good use. She probably lives isolated and watches documentaries, and thus I could deduct that she is not very attractive and not very popular but rather introverted and a lover of literature.
The persona in “Mirror,” it is the actual mirror, personified into a gender-less speaker. The mirror is obviously small since it says that “Faces” separate it from the wall; so it is safe to infer that it is not a full-length mirror but a small, face mirror hanging on the wall of a middle-aged woman. It could well be the mirror hanging on the wall of the lady from “Nurture.”
In ‘Mirror,” the style is more difficult, more complex and more suggestive rather than obvious and direct. The poem is a giant personification in which the mirror is given human qualities. First, the mirror is compared with the eye of a God, one that only observes, without judging, not cruel, only truthful. The imagery is very powerful; the reader can almost see what the mirror is “seeing,” whether it is the pink wallpaper on the opposite site of the room or the face of the woman who is showing all her emotions in front of the mirror. When the woman turns towards the “liars,” the personified candles or the moon, she doesn’t see herself, she doesn’t see the truth about who she is; but rather whatever she wants to see with the eyes of her imagination. Interestingly, candles and the moon are usually related to romantic encounters and so, maybe the mirror says that the woman is being lied to; she sees a romanticized view of herself that the mirror cannot offer her. Although heartless, the mirror realizes that the passing of the years is hard for the woman, since she sees her old age coming toward her like a “terrible fish,” a threat, which the mirror, although it first said it is impartial and truthful, feels like a danger that is coming and thus shows emotion rather than rationality.