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

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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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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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What is the main theme depicted in Sylvia Plath's "Mirror"?  

I believe that the central theme of this poem is about senescence. The beauty of this poem is that Plath uses personification through the mirror as a reflection of one's age. The mirror is unbiased:

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful‚

The passage of time is shown by Plath in the following lines:

Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.

Faces can only be seen when there is light, and darkness only appears when it is night. Countless days have passed as the mirror merely reflects what passes across it.

The mirror then reflects a woman looking at herself, assessing her countenance. As she ages, she relies on candlelight to hide her imperfections, as people view other people bathed in yellow light more favorably due to the phenomenon of color constancy. The moon, on the other hand, obscures her imperfections in darkness—but not from the mirror.

The woman in this poem is fixated with her own image:

I am important to her. She comes and goes.

She cannot, however, escape her own aging or her own death, and that is where the poem ends:

In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

This chilling poem reflects the fixation many of us have with our own inescapable mortality.

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What is the main theme depicted in Sylvia Plath's "Mirror"?  

This is an excellent poem and one I always give to my AP English Literature and Composition group to analyse at the beginning of each year. To put it simply, this poem is about aging and its inevitability. However, what makes this poem unique is the novel way in which Plath explores this issue by assuming the persona of a mirror that is looked into by its owner as she follows the process of her aging. Note what the mirror tells us about its owner:

She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.

Note how the persona of the mirror speaks in a detached, curtailed and precise way, using short sentences that reflect the mirrors self-professed objectivity. It also presents us with the way that, for some people, we obsess over our appearance so much that we become slaves to our own reflection and process of aging.

Another aspect of this tremendous poem is the closing simile that represents old age as a "terrible fish":

In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

Note here how this poem comments on such obsession: the danger of focussing so much on our aging is that we, like the woman in the poem, "drown" ourselves whilst young because we are not able to enjoy our youth whilst we have it, and we end up living a life dominated by the fear of the inevitable, pictured in the "terrible fish" of the old woman that she knows she will become.

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Summarize the poem "Mirror" by Sylvia Plath.

In Plath's poem "Mirror," the speaker of the poem literally is a mirror on the bathroom wall.  The mirror says that it has no opinions about what it reflects and that it simply gives images back to the viewer as they really are.  It remains alone until someone comes to stand in front of the glass, looking for an image.  In the second stanza, the mirror takes on the metaphor of a lake and describes the actions of a woman who comes to the edge everyday looking for answers.  She is upset because of some loss in life and the mirror (here the lake) reflects her distress.  Over time, the woman grows old and her age is also reflected on the surface.

Figuratively, the poem discusses people's interaction with the truth and that fact that there are times in our lives when we hope to see something in ourselves that is not really there.  The woman in the second stanza wants to regain her beauty and youth, but the truth is that she must accept her aging like everyone else. 

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

“Mirror” is an objective perspective on time and mortality and particularly about beauty – or the ephemeral nature of beauty and the superficiality of beauty. Mirrors are unconscious, so they can’t be harsh. They are only truthful; unbiased in their reflection of the world. Nor do mirrors interfere in the world. The mirror then describes itself as a lake, with the woman looking older each time she resurfaces to reflection. The mirror says the woman drowned a young girl (the woman as a girl) in itself (the mirror). The mirror notes it is important to the woman. The woman needs the mirror as she defines herself according to her own beauty; perhaps trying to live up to superficial standards of her social world. The mirror says the woman searches “my reaches for what she really is.” The mirror is an unconscious thing, but as personified, the mirror can only ‘wonder’ who the woman really is. As far as the mirror ‘knows’ (again, personification), the woman is obsessed with image (her own). But if the woman is searching the mirror’s reaches for what she is beyond her superficial beauty, it seems the woman can’t get that far because she ‘rewards’ the mirror with tears. So, perhaps the implication is that the old woman resurfaces like a ‘terrible fish’ not because she is old and lost her beauty but because she only values herself for beauty. She is actually doomed to fail because you can’t probe a mirror for more profound significance of the meaning of her life. A mirror is, by its physical nature, a superficial reflection.

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What is the poem "Mirror" by Sylvia Plath about?

This is an excellent poem exploring the psychology and impact of aging upon a female. However, note the ingenious way in which Plath chooses to write this poem. Instead of writing it from the perspective of the woman who is struggling to accept her aging, she chooses to assume the persona of the mirror into which she spends so much time looking at her physical appearance. This allows us to explore both the character of the woman and the character of the mirror who narrates to us, dispassionately, what it sees.

Note how in the second stanza the mirror compares itself to a lake into which the woman peers:

Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me.
Searching my reaches for what she really is.

This simile becomes powerful when we imagine the woman starring intently into the "lake" trying to work out who she is and trying to establish her identity, which is caught up so much in her physical appearance. It is the last two lines of the poem that give it real strength, however:

In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

This captures the theme of aging in the poem, as it talks of how, by focusing so much on external beauty, the woman has ironically drowned her younger self and now can only look in horror at the "terrible fish" that comes towards her as she sees more evidence of her aging every day. The dangers of obsessing too much about our beauty are thus highlighted. We, too, can actually waste our youth by being fixated on the loss of our looks.

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