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What are two examples of figurative language used in "Mirror" by Sylvia Plath?How can...

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stephaniesalazar | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted April 9, 2011 at 12:32 AM via web

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What are two examples of figurative language used in "Mirror" by Sylvia Plath?

How can I tell what they mean?

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 9, 2011 at 1:23 AM (Answer #1)

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Keep in mind the definition of figures of speech, which is language that is not meant to be literal, but makes a comparison between two things which are not alike.  Figures of speech include both similes and metaphors.

The two most obvious figures of speech in this poem are the opening lines of each stanza:

I am silver and exact.

Now I am a lake.

In order to decipher what these metaphors may mean, you can answer a few questions:

  1. Who is the "I" here, or who is speaking?
  2. What are some things you think about when you think of a mirror and a lake?  What attributes of a mirror and a lake might the speaker be comparing to herself?
  3. What details from the poem itself can help you prove your ideas in question #2?
  4. How are a mirror and a lake similar but different?  How might the differences between a mirror and a lake show changes the speaker goes through?
  5. What details from the poem can help you prove your ideas in question #4?

Remember that though poetry is often ambiguous and certainly subjective to a reader's point-of-view, you should always use textual clues to help support your ideas.  If you can answer the above questions, you most certainly will have identified the figures of speech in this poem.  Additionally, you will have brought yourself into the interpretation, which is exactly what poetry calls for.

 

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