What is the central idea of Sylvia Path's poem "Mirror?"

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The central purpose of Plath's poem "Mirror" is to explain how people can look at themselves and not really see the whole picture about their true identity.

Plath states that the mirror offers one of the only true reflections of who one really is. It is the mirror which offers the truth with no preconceptions.

Plath's imagery shows that the reflection that many may look at is distorted by "candles or the moon" given that light, or more-so flickering light. It is only the mirror which offers the undistorted reflection.

The woman depicted in the poem has aged- throughout the process, it is only the mirror which has been there for her.

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skyey-i | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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Man’s tendency to dismiss the inevitable truth about his declining age and waning attractiveness is the central idea in the poem “Mirror.”

The mirror reflects the true image of the woman to her, but she is not ready to accept that she is no longer an attractive young girl, but an aged woman. “Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon” to look at herself in their borrowed glow.

Still, the mirror reflects her face “faithfully.” When her attempts to disprove the truth of her age fail, she breaks down in tears of frustration.

It is human nature to dismiss the truth about the ugly and unpleasant aspects of our lives. We often indulge in useless attempts to deceive ourselves, as the woman does in the poem, and it brings us nothing but frustration.  

The mirror may be further explained to stand for anything that acquaints us with the hard truth. The moon and the candles might too be interpreted as anything through which we try to disown reality. But the truth never subsides or changes.

Thus, the poet seems to be suggesting to us to come to terms with the reality of our lives. Doing so, we'll be able to make better decisions for the future and overcome unnecessary frustration. This is the central idea of Sylvia Path's poem "Mirror."

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