Plath had multiple complex issues taking place in her life simultaneously. Mirror happens to symbolise troubled woman, who constantly wants to reject the societal influence on herself. She wants to view herself as an individual, but the biggest barrier appears to be the society.
The title mirror informs the reader about the speaker of the poem. Mirror in the very real world, physically shows us what we really are. Plath has taken this one step further, through personifying the mirror she wants to find her individual self.
The poem is written in free verse. It has no particular meter, pace or rhyming scheme. However, Plath does use slant rhymes to enhance the effectiveness. The poem is divided into 2 stanza both 9 lines each. Giving the poem a symmetrical look. Symmetrical or an even structure of the poem, is probably is another way to demolish the inequalities between men and women.
“I am silver … love or dislike” The use of personal pronoun tells us that this is the first person speaking, that in this case is the mirror. The mirror is personified by giving it a human attribute of talking and being the narrator. Hence this alludes to the mirror, it is unbiased. swallowing is again a personification, the mirror shows the image just as it is, without alteration. Unmisted by love or dislike tells us that nothing affects the truth of the mirror.
“I am not cruel, … four-cornered” – The use of the words “not cruel” instead of kind, is the mirrors way of telling us that it is not harsh. Strange thing here is mirror claims to have the eye of the little god. And so far the mirror kept praising about its truthfulness. Contradictory because God, does not praise itself.
“most of ..wall” – this line tells us the setting of the mirror.
“It is pink …flickers” – mirror is detailing the setting. the colour imagery of pink, gives a feminist aspect to the poem. The speckles on the pink wall, could be referred to as the lack of originality of women.
“Faces and darkness … over” – The repetition of over and over could represent constant separation of women from their own self despite various attempts to do so in the patriarchal society. The faces and darkness represents men and their dominance.
“Now I am a lake” – The shift from the set up of mirror in the room to a lake, gives the perception a third dimension of depth. This could be yet another attempt of women to battle their way out.
“A woman bends over me … what she really is” – In the midst of her life in a patriarchal society, the woman often comes by the lake to find herself. She wants her own identity. The woman might be bending to get a better view of herself.
“Then she turns … reflect it faithfully” – The woman prefers to deludes herself with the lies of candles and moon. They often hide the blemishes and make the woman look prettier. The lake here again praises itself, by calling it faithful. The constant praising of the lake makes us doubt the reliability of the lake as well.
“She rewards … hands” – The woman is crying. Because she is not satisfied with what she views herself as. The woman preferred the blemishes over the truth, because realistically the truth was that she still was subjugated to male dominance.
“I am important … darkness” – Once again, the tone of pride in saying I am important to her is not godly at all. But strangly the lake is important to the women, because the woman comes there daily, hunting for self.1`
“In me she … terrible fish” – The use of the word drown suggests the time passing by swiftly and situations remaining the same. The drowning and rising in the lake is metaphorically dqqescribing the inevitable process of aging. Probably the drowning could also tell us that the woman has spent a major part of her life searching for herself in the lake, this in turn could represent the constant battle against the society.
The tone of the poem seems bleak and mellow, because it does show the reality of aging and suppression.
If looked at this poem from a larger context, feminist perception, this poem was the symbol of search of the women then. During those times women were subjugated to male dominance. They often had to live under suppression. Hence, this poem could be addressing the search of the individuality for a woman.