English Notes (Class 10)

CBSE Class 10 English Poetry 2 Mirror

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Mirror – Sylvia Plath
 
Mirror

Mirror

Summary

In the poem, “A Mirror”, a mere glass has been made vocal. It is allowed to speak about itself and defend against silly charges.
It asserts that it is exact and truthful. It reflects every face and every object without any biased feelings. It only reveals the truth about the person. It is God’s eye which notices every minute detail.

‘Mirror’ reflects the poet’s concern with aging. It reflects the reality accurately, even though people often do not like what it shows them. The aging woman who comes before it shudders at her reflection. The idea is that time affects one terribly. One grows old and loses one’s charm and brilliance. Reality cannot be evaded, though one can evade the mirror, the true reflector of reality.
In this poem, the mirror itself is the narrator. It is transparent and accurate. It truly reflects what is before it. It is free from prejudices. It is not cruel but only truthful. Most of the time it keeps on reflecting the blank wall with some spots, opposite it, except when somebody comes before it or when there is darkness,
The mirror may be called God’s eye because it reflects every one exactly from all four angles without any prejudice.

The mirror has become a lake or a pool of water. A woman looks into its depth to know correctly what she looks like now. She is growing old. She turns her back to the mirror and faces the candles or the moon. They give her a false view of her age and beauty. They tell lies and mislead her. But the mirror plays no tricks.
She bursts into tears. The mirror gets her tears as a reward. The mirror knows that the woman has lost her youth. She has been using the mirror ever since she was a young girl. Now when she comes before it she is terrified to see an old woman rising towards her, day after day like a terrible fish.

Important Questions


Q. The Mirror reflects the image of life as it is, but still people find it difficult to come to terms with the truth. Why?

A. People, in general, like those people who go on appreciating them. Flattery is so delicious that everybody likes it. Nobody likes to be bitten by the reality of truth. The mirror is a symbol of truthfulness.

It is also known for its objective. It is never affected by any sort of emotion, hatred, and love. Owing to its objective nature, it reflects the image of the thing that comes before it faithfully. That is why it is not liked by the people of old age. The women who go on using it became angry with it when it shows her ugly face.

It is unbearable for her. Then she goes to the liars. They enhance her beauty temporarily. She flatters herself and indulges in self- deception.


Q. How is the mirror different from most of the human beings?

A. A mirror is free from any preconception and prejudice. Unlike human beings, it is not influenced by feelings and emotions. So, it doesn’t judge others with pre-conceived ideas. It is truthful and objective and shows the exact and accurate image without any distortion.


Q. What important lesson does the ‘Mirror’ teach us?

A. The mirror is an epitome of truthfulness and objectivity. It reflects exactly whatever comes before it. It does not help anyone out of romanticism about them. The speckles of the mirror have been compared to the wrinkles of human faces.

So change is the eternal law of nature. Everyone must accept it gladly. As nothing is permanent in the world, it is foolishness to have ego or illusion around oneself. When the mirror shows the reality to the old women, they started behaving strangely. The try to see in their faces what they had once.

They become downcast to see their charmless faces. But the mirror wants them to be truthful like it. They must accept the power of time. With the passage of time, human beings undergo many changes in their bodies. So, they must be aware of these physical changes and they must compromise with them.

If they don’t learn how to compromise, they will incur irritation and anxiety. if one makes oneself aware of the eternal law of changes of nature, one will never become restless and depressed.


Q. Why are the candles and the moon called liars?

A. The candles and the moon are called liars because they create illusion and make the women appear beautiful. Both the candles and the moon are soft and flattering romanticized light sources that enhance beauty temporarily concealing the truthful image.


Q. Why did you think has the mirror been compared to a lake?

A. Owing to its action the mirror has been compared to a lake. In her old age, when the woman checks her appearance she is startled and horrified to see her face as she has lost her beauty. Then she starts moving the mirror in a way so as to find her face that she had when she was young.


Q. Why does the mirror state that the pink colored, opposite wall is a part of its heart?

A. The mirror meditates on the pink colored, opposite wall for most of the time. It is passionate about it and thinks of it as its heart. It is able to form abstract thoughts and meditate with the help of the pink wall. So, the pink wall has become an integral part of its existence.


Q. Why has the mirror been called a four-cornered god?

A. Being omniscient, the mirror is able to see reflect the truth. It is something mystic and divine which looks at everything with an equal eye like God, it sees people as they are, without biased.

Q. Read the following extract and answer the questions that follow:

I am silver and exact. I have no preconception… just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.

i) Who is “I” in the above passage?

ii) Why does it claim to have no preconception?

iii) Why has it been described as “unmisted”? What is the image it is trying to convey about its nature?

 

A. i) In the above passage, “I” is the mirror

ii) The mirror can rightly claim to have no preconception because it gives the exact reflection of the object before it.

iii) A misted mirror cannot give the exact image of the object before it and the mirror is not affected by love or dislike or any other human emotions. It gives a proper and exact image, and it is trying to convey that its nature is not biased or prejudiced.

 
 
Q. Read the following extract and answer the questions that follow:


I am not cruel, only truthful…. Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.

i) How is the mirror not cruel, but truthful?

ii) Explain “The eye of a little god, four-cornered”

iii) How does the mirror “meditate”?

A. i) The person who does not like his or her own image calls the mirror cruel. The truth, however, is that the mirror is only truthful – giving the true image.

ii) The mirror is rectangular or square and so the poet calls it four-cornered. It is also like a little God because it has god-like impartiality.

iii) When there is no one before the mirror, it keeps on reflecting the wall before it. The word “reflect” also means thinking or meditating or introspecting.

 
 
Q. Read the following extract and answer the questions that follow:


Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me …. Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.

i) How is the mirror “a lake”?

ii) What is the woman searching for in the depth of the lake?

iii) Why have the candles and the moon been called liars?

A. i) The mirror is described as a lake because the woman who stands before it, seeing her image tries to look deep into every part of her image. The depth and clarity can be seen in a lake only. Also, anyone can drown in a lake. So when one looks in the mirror, one is “drowned” in it, yet one can come out, of it “alive”.

ii) The women bend over to see her reflection in the lake. She was once young and beautiful, but now she is wrinkled and old. She wants to see her young, beautiful face once again, so she searches inside the lake (mirror) for that

iii) “The moon” and “the candles” have been called liars because they do not give intense light, which makes the face look beautiful as the wrinkles cannot be seen clearly. In their dim light, the woman who has now grown old can see her youthful face minus the wrinkles. Since this is not the true image of the woman, they have been referred to as “liars”.

 
 
Q. Read the following extract and answer the questions that follow:


I see her back, and reflect it faithfully…. I am important to her. She comes and goes.

i) Who is “she” and what does the mirror do to her?

ii) How does “she” react to her face when she sees it in the mirror?

iii) Explain “I am important to her. She comes and goes”.

A. i) “She” here is the woman in whose house the mirror is fixed on the wall. The woman looks into the mirror and it reflects her image as it really is

ii) “She” is the woman who looks at herself in the mirror and she feels sad because she has grown old and developed wrinkles. She moves her hands this way and that to express her despair or sadness or worry or anger at this physical change.

iii) The mirror says that it is important to the woman because she uses it every day to see her face.

 
 
Q. Read the following extract and answer the questions that follow:


In me she has drowned a young girl, and …. Like a terrible fish.

i) How has “she” drowned a young girl in the mirror?

ii) How does “she” reacts when “she” looks at her face reflected in the mirror?

iii) Why does “she” behave like a terrible fish?

A. i) She-meaning the woman was once a young girl. But now she has grown old. The physical changes brought about due to age and time seems to have “drowned” the young girl in the mirror and the older varnish of the woman now is reflected every time the woman looks at herself in the mirror.

ii) “She” (the woman) feels very sad at the physical change. She looks into the depths of the mirror to see her young face again, but she cannot find it. She feels very upset over this fact.

iii) She (the woman) behaves like a terrible fish which is out of water because she still imagines herself to be young and beautiful and cannot accept the fact that one grows old with the passage of time. She still has romantic ideas about her youth and beauty.

 
 
Q. What is the central theme of the poem “mirror”?
 
A. The poem “Mirror” by Sylvia Plath, is a comment on a woman’s desire to look beautiful and always look young. For some woman, their day begins by looking into the mirror. She is glad when she finds herself looking young, charming and beautiful, but is inconsolable when the reality is otherwise.


For an old woman, the mirror is like a lake. She looks carefully deep into the mirror to see the youth that has drowned in it. She then looks to candles and the moon to reveal her appearance, but the mirror calls them liars because they hide many of her shortcomings like her age, and the wrinkles.

The mirror is the only thing here which is unbiased and not prejudiced and reveals only the truth and gives the exact reflection.

Q. The mirror view of life is difficult to accept. Do you agree with the statement? Substantiate your answer with examples from the poem.
A. The mirror does not lie, it gives only the real or true image of a person standing before it. It has no preconceived nations – it has god-like fairness. However, very often it is difficult to accept reality. Especially women like to like to live in denial.
They do not like to see their wrinkles reflecting the loss of age and youth. They would prefer to believe that they are still beautiful and young. Like the woman in the poem, they turn to the mirror every day looking for assurance of their beauty which they think is everlasting.
They would prefer to see their faces in moonlight or candlelight because they blur and hide much of their ugliness.
Q. Imagine you are the lady in the poem ‘Mirror’ and pen down your feelings about your changing reflection in the mirror and how it has troubled you.
A. As usual, I received a shock when I looked into the mirror I noticed a few more grey hair and some lines appearing around my eyes.
My skin looks pale and blotchy. I hate looking into the mirror which highlights every ugly line on my face. I prefer to look in the candlelight and moonlight as my face appears softens hiding all my ugliness and age.
The mirror may be reflecting the real image but I am unable to accept. I am in deep anguish and pain every time I see myself in the mirror. I am not that old. I refuse to believe what the mirror shows to me.

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