TEXTBOOK QUESTIONS (SOLVED)
Answer the following questions briefly
(a) What is the poetic device used when the mirror says ’I swallow’? [C.B.S.E., 2011 (T-1)]
Ans : It is personification because the mirror swallows images like an animal or any other living being.
(b) How does the mirror usually pass its time?
Ans : The Mirror keeps gazing at the wall opposite to it.
(c) What disturbs the mirror’s contemplation of the opposite wall?
Ans : This view is sometimes interrupted by the ‘to’ and ‘fro’ movements of the woman.
(d) Why does the mirror appear to be a lake in the second stanza? What aspect of the mirror do you think is being referred to here?
Ans : The mirror and lake are similar. The lake also gives a crystal clear image like a mirror. Just as the mirror doesnot hide deformities, similarly the lake also projects a true reflection, without hiding any flaws.
(e) What is the woman searching for in the depths of the lake?
Ans : The woman explores the depths of time, goes to the depth of her past and regrets the loss of her youth.
(f) How does the narrator convey the fact that the woman looking at her reflection in the lake is deeply distressed?
Ans : The woman bending over the lake is not happy to see her reflection which is full of flaws. The lake presents a true picture of the woman. So to give mental solace, she turns to dimlight and candles, who present a better picture. The narrator wishes to convey that the woman turns to distractions to avoid the essential reality.
SOME IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
1. What lesson does the poem ‘Mirror’ teach us? Discuss.
Ans. This poem is an emotional expression of human suffering due to the process of ageing. Beauty, youth are just transitory and it is very difficult for women to accept it. Illusions, lies and falsehood are adopted to run away from the ugly reality. Most of us are too judgemental and we are prejudiced by our likes and dislikes. We need to see things in the right perspective. We must accept that real beauty is not just physical and we should try to transcend these physical barriers. Beauty of the soul is permanent and we should never allow ourselves to be obsessed by our physical looks, otherwise we will also become ‘trapped’ in the physicality of this world. Then there is no salvation for us.
2. Why is the mirror like a god and a lake? [C.B.S.E., 2011 (T-1)]
Ans. The mirror is powerful like a ‘God’ and it has a powerful hold over the women. It is unbiased, omniscient like a God and encapsulates the entire universe. The lake is also like the mirror because it also reflects the image of things truthfully. There are many creatures that live and survive in the lake, they are trapped in it and have no other existence outside the lake. Similarly, the mirror also acts as a trap because the woman is obsessed by it, even if she does not like what it reflects. So both God and the lake are honest in reflection and are unbiased.
3. What characteristics of ‘Mirror’ are pointed out in the poem? Discuss.
Ans. The mirror is a symbol of truth, reality and objectivity. It is silver-plated and reflects the reality in its true form. The mirror is unprejudiced, ‘unmisted’ and it is not swayed by love or hatred. It is unemotional, dispassionate and is unmoved by the tears, worries or the anxities of the viewers. The mirror is like a God, omniscient and unbiased. It watches over all in a fair manner. The mirror is considered cruel because it doesn’t hide any flaws. Still it is indispensable for the woman, who turns to it, again and again. The mirror is too reliable and shatters all the illusions which a woman weaves about herself.
4. What is the theme of the poem ‘Mirror’ by Sylvia Plath? [C.B.S.E., 2011 (T-1)]
Ans. Throughout the poem, there is a theme of the truth and lies. Sylvia Plath is torn between the true picture of herself and the distorted image others see of her. The mirror represents the truth as it is described as ‘exact’ ‘just as it is’ ‘only truthful’. Human beings are prejudiced, coloured by preconceived notions of love or dislike but the mirror is ‘unmisted’.
The mirror in the poem symbolises truth. Truth is a powerful tool in the poem. If a person has flaws, the mirror displays them without any hesitation. The mirror has godlike power and there is an obsessive relationship between the mirror and the woman because she looks to the mirror for comfort but is confronted with her ugly reality. Even though ‘candles and moon’ are liars, still the woman wants to embrace them and live in illusion.
Then away from the mirror, the woman is forced to face reality through nature. Lake is similar to the mirror as they both reveal honest reflection. The candles and the moon are just distractions to find the essential self. ‘In me she has drowned a young girl’ depicts that it is difficult for a woman to accept her aging process.
Sylvia compares herself to a fish to point out that just as fish depends on water, she depends on mirror. When the poet used a lake in place of a mirror, she may have needed a creature that lived in the lake to compare her feeling of living in the mirror. The poetess realises that she cannot escape reality, even outside her home. Even the ‘lake’ reveals the same transformation.
So the poem shows how the woman was scared of the truth and reality that the mirror represents. Throughout the poem there is talk of truth, lies, illusions and reality. So this poem juxtaposes the somewhat harsh, clear cut mirror-given image of a woman against false witnesses and how this seeming obsession with physical beauty leads to escapism in a world of illusion and distractions.