Q1. Read the given extracts and answer the questions that follow :
A woman bends over me
Searching my reaches for what she really is
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon [C.B.S.E., 2011 (T-1)]
(a) What is the woman bending over?
Ans : The woman is bending over the lake.
(b) Why have the candles and the moon been called ‘‘liars’’?
Ans : The candles and the moon hide the reality and the flaws or wrinkles on the woman’s face.
(c) Why does she turn to them in spite of calling them ‘liars’?
Ans : The woman wants to nurture illusions about herself. She is afraid to confront the reality of her aging.
Q2. I am not cruel, only truthful The eye of a little god, four-cornered Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall
(a) Why does the mirror say, “I am not cruel”?
Ans : The mirror is not cruel because it is unbiased. Its intention is not to hurt but to tell the exact reality to the person.
(b) Why has the mirror been called a ‘four - cornered’ god?
Ans : The mirror comprises the entire universe for the woman, it is like a world with four directions and it has God-like powers over women.
(c) How does the mirror spend its time?
Ans : It keeps gazing at the wall opposite and keeps looking at the wall with pink spots and discoloration.
Q3. In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman Rises towards her day after day like a terrible fish
(a) What does the word drowned indicate?
Ans : The loss of youth is associated with ‘drowning’. The poet uses this metaphor to show that the little girl in the mirror has drowned and an old woman has replaced her.
(b) What does the fish signify?
Ans : The poet has used ‘fish’ to indicate that just as fish depends on water, the same way, a woman depends upon the mirror.
(c) Why does the woman call herself a terrible fish?
Ans : The fish indicates the creature’s inability to escape from the sea of time and the poet is also caught up in the web of age.
Q4. I am important to her. She comes and goes. Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
(a) Why is the mirror important to the woman.
Ans : The woman depends on the mirror and it is her constant companion. Any woman cannot do without a mirror.
(b) Explain the second line.
Ans : The mirror is blank without the face of the woman. It is only bright when the woman looks into it.
(c) Why does the woman come and go away?
Ans : The woman cannot continuously keep gazing at the mirror. Many times she goes and then comes again as a routine.
SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS
Q1. Why is the old woman compared to a terrible fish in the poem, ‘Mirror?’
Ans : Sylvia Plath chose the metaphor of the fish because seeing her own reflection leads to self-loathing and she sees less of young girl and more of the old woman in the mirror. She feels herself trapped in the cruel jaws of time like a fish. Just as a fish depends on water, the woman depends upon the mirror.
Q2. Why is the mirror’s reflection unacceptable to most of the people?
Ans : The mirror is unbiased in its reflection. It presents the flaws and signs of aging truthfully. Truth, ugliness, signs of aging are unacceptable to most women. That is why the woman gets agitated to look at her wrinkles and does not feel like accepting the reality.
Q3. Do you agree that the poem ‘Mirror’ presents a pessimistic view of life?
Ans : Truth is often cruel. The poem is unbiased, blunt and too frank in its statement. Truth when it is unmisted, often hurts. So the poem is frank, confessional from the point of women, though sad in nature. It does present grim reality of life. It depends upon the individual, how he accepts the reality. So the poem cannot be called pessimistic.
Q4. Why does the woman turn to the moon and the candles?
Ans : Women are most concerned for their physical appearance and it is difficult for women to digest the truth of their aging. The mirror and the lake present a true reflection of the woman with signs of age and flaws. So to live in a world of illusion, the woman turns to the moon, candles, dim light which hide her flaws and give her temporary solace.
Q5. What does the poem reveal about the character of the woman?
Ans : The woman dwells too much on physical beauty, she is almost obsessed by it. She appears to be vain and never accepts aging as a natural outcome of life. She looks for illusions, escapism from the world of reality, which will never benefit her. The woman is fickle with shallow values and does not realise that life cannot be lived on the basis of temporary distractions.
Q6. Why does the woman not like the mirror? [C.B.S.E., 2011 (T-1)]
Ans : The mirror in the poem symbolises truth, reality and objectivity. If a person has flaws, the mirror displays them without any hesitation. The woman looks into the mirror for comfort but is confronted with her ugly reality, so she does not like the mirror.
Q7. Why does the mirror state that the pink coloured, opposite wall is a part of its heart?
Ans : The mirror constantly gazes at the wall opposite to it and appears to be contemplating deeply. The wall has pink spots of discolouration on it. When no one is around these pink spots get reflected in the mirror and have become a part of the life of the mirror.
Q8. The poet describes the mirror as a little four cornered God. Why?
Ans : The mirror is like a world with its four directions. The four corners of the mirror make it look like a microcosm of the world. It is omniscient like God, free from any prejudices or preoccupations any likes and dislikes and reflects only the truth. Thus the poet describes mirror as little four cornerned God.