“Mirror” by Sylvia Plath is one of the great American lyrical poems. The poem’s form is free verse. Written in first-person point of view, the speaker is the mirror. The theme of the poem speaks to the honesty of the mirror and the importance of being like the mirror in a person’s life: looking at a person with complete truthfulness.
The figurative language used in the poem begins with the extended metaphor that lasts the entire poem. The poem is divided by stanzas into two distinct aspects of a mirror: the actual mirror and a lake.
The first stanza begins with the mirror hanging on a wall reflecting whatever it sees. It has no choice. It is not intentionally cruel when it reveals what it actually sees. The mirror is truthful. With the correct lighting it sees everything like a “little god.” The wall across from it is pink and has become a part of the mirror’s heart. When people pass in front of the mirror, it seems as if the wall is flickering.
In the first verse, there many examples of figurative language:
The mirror compares itself to a "little god." This is an example of a metaphor comparing the reflection of the mirror which reflects everything that it sees to a deity.
Personification is used in the line: Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is…
This gives the mirror the ability to swallow as if it were a person.
In stanza 2, the mirror becomes a lake.
Every morning, a woman looks at her reflection in the lake. As time goes by, she no longer likes what she sees. She uses the tools of a woman to hide the aging process.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully
The false compliments are represented by the dim lighting, moonlight, and the cosmetics. Finally, now when she looks into the lake, she sees old age coming toward her like a terrible fish.
A metaphor is used when the mirror compares the false compliments to the light of the moos and the efforts of the woman to hide her aging with the light of the candles.
A simile is used to compare the mirror as it reflects the aging woman to a "terrible fish."
Mirror is the symbol of reality and it also adds something that is liked by somebody and disliked by somebody .In both senses, it also gives definite example of figurative language.