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the poem mirror full description of poem is in pdf i.e summary,textual question and some extra question

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    POETRY-2 "MIRROR" By:-Sylvia Palth 10th ENGLISH SUMMARY This poem explores the relationship that we have with truth, and particularly the truth about ourselves. In the first verse, Plath imagines the thoughts of a mirror, chosen because it is an object we all turn to in search of a kind of truth. It is presented as objective-'exact' and without preconceptions', swallowing whatever it sees without a second thought, 'unmisted by lover or dislike'. The mirror is, it is at pains to point out that it is, 'not cruel, only truthful '-but itself is cruel for human beings, and we turn away from it, presenting our backs to those mirrors that offers to show us the unbiased truth. In the second verse, the mirror is replaced by the lake, something else into which humans have traditionally gazed into, in search of their own reflection. Plath presents us with a woman 'searching (the mirror's) reaches for what she really is', 'but the figure cannot bear the truth she finds', and 'turns her back on it in favour of' those liars, 'the candles or the moon', both images traditionally associated with romance. Yet we cannot live without knowing the reality about ourselves, even if what we find upsets us-and so each morning the woman is back, even though it is only to cry and wring her hands at what she sees. To know the truth is torture, and yet we continue to torture ourselves. What makes the poem particularly striking is the viewpoint Plath adopts-she writes as the mirror itself. This brings an added poignancy to this poem about isolation; the only person more lonely than the receiver of bad news is its bearer, perhaps. The mirror's life is an unfulfilled one-it can do no more than 'meditate on the opposite wall', and even the dignity of the word 'meditate' is undermined by its object, a wall painted' pink, with speckles'. Throughout the poem, it is the mirror which mediates, which has hidden reaches, which has a heart and behaves 'faithful'. But the woman 'comes and . day after day'. She merely 'rewards (it) with tears and an agitation of hands', goes.. turning her back on it and yet unable to stay away, returning every morning to replace the darkness. The relationship between the mirror and the woman is evidently a complex one- they need each other, and yet cause each other pain, too. In this poem, Plath-who committed suicide less than 18 months later-adopts the mirror's viewpoint in order to explore her ambivalent feelings about herself. 'Mirror' juxtaposes images of loves and cruelty, truth and dislike, flickering light and darkness. One minute the mirror is 'a little god', the next it is needy and alone. It longs to be loved and yet it is in the woman's suffering, her 'tears' and 'agitation', that it receives what it calls a reward'. Ahead lies a terrible future for the woman. The description of herself as a 'terrible fish'- a cold and emotionless woman —rises to torture Sylvia Plath.
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    Reference to context type questions Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow. Write the answers in one or two lines only. 1. I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions. Whatever I see I swallow immediately Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike. (a) Who does 'I' refer to in these lines? Ans. 'I' refers to the mirror. (b) When the poet says that the mirror has no preconceptions it means: (i) it reflects back your image objectively. (ii) it gives a biased view of the person. (iii) it is emotionally involved with the person whose image it reflects. It reflects back your image objectively. (c) Why has the mirror been described as being 'unmisted'? What is the image it is trying to convey about the nature of the mirror? Ans. It shows that the mirror is unbiased and lacks sensitivity. 2. I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions. Whatever I see I swallow immediately Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike. (a) How does the mirror 'swallow'? Ans. It absorbs all the images that are reflected on it. The images seem to disappear into the mirror. (b) What is the poetic device used in the second lines? Ans. Personification (c) List the qualities of the mirror mentioned in the above extract.
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    Ans. The qualities of the mirror are silver, exact, unmisted, truthful. 3. I am not cruel, only truthful- The eye of a little good, 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 does not reflect the truth to hurt the viewer. It only reflects what it sees. (b) Why has the mirror been called 'a four-cornered god'? Ans. Like God, the mirror watches a person in an unbiased and fair manner and from all angles. (c) How does the mirror spend its time? Ans. It meditates on the opposite wall and on the people who come to check their appearance in the mirror. 4. It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long I think it is a part of my heart. But It flickers. Faces and darkness separate us over and over. (a) What does the mirror reflect on when it is not looking at the woman? Ans. The opposite wall. (b) What disturbs its contemplation of the opposite wall? Ans. People who come to check their appearance in the mirror. (c) What does the phrase 'pink speckles' refer to? Ans. It refers to the opposite wall that is pink with speckles. 5. Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me, Searching my reaches for what she really is.
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    Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon. (a) In the second stanza, the mirror is compared to another object. What is it? Why do you think this comparison has been made? Ans. The mirror is compared to a pond/lake. Because the ponds is not as exact as the mirror, the image is distorted by the ripples in the water and hence the person who looks into it will get a flattering view of herself or himself. (b) What is the woman searching for in the depths of the pool? Ans. The woman is upset with the signs of ageing reflected by the mirror and she is trying to find her lost looks in the water of the pond. (c) Is she satisfied with what she observes? Give reasons for your answer. Ans. No, because she starts crying at the signs of growing old that are reflected back. 6. 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. (a) What is the woman bending over? Ans. She is bending over the lake. (b) Why does the woman bend over? Ans. She bends over because the pond is spread out before her feet and to look closely at her reflection. (c) Why have the candles and the moon called 'liars'? Ans. They are 'liars' because they create a flattering image of the person by hiding their blemishes.
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    7. I see her back, and reflect it faithfully. She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands. I am important to her. She comes and goes. (a) What does the phrase 'agitation of the hands' mean? Ans. It means that the woman is very upset. (b) Why does the woman star crying? Ans. She it upset at the signs of her ageing as reflected by the mirror. The woman rewards the mirror with tears for she does not like the truth-the signs of ageing that she sees in herself. (c) What does this reveal of her character? Ans. She is unable to face the truth about herself. 8. Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness. 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) How has the poet changed over the years? Ans. She had aged. She has changed from a young girl to an old woman. (b) Why does the poet refer to the fish in the last line? Why does she describe it as being 'terrible'? Ans. The thought and the fact that she is growing old is the terrible fish that comes to haunt her. She sees herself as a sad, angered, and emotionless woman. (c) What does the mention of the 'fish' symbolize? Ans. The fish reminds her that she is no longer beautiful and that tells her that she is cold and incapable of love.
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    TEXTUAL QUESTIONS 1. What is the poetic device used when the mirror says 'I swallow'? Ans. The poetic device used in personification. Like a person swallows food and chews upon it, the mirror takes in the image of a person and thinks about it. 2. How does the mirror usually pass its time? Ans. The one-dimensional mirror spends the entire day gazing at the wall opposite to it and faithfully reproducing its colours and design until darkness supervenes or faces intrude. 3. What disturb the mirror's contemplation of the opposite wall? Ans. The mirror's contemplation of the opposite wall is disturbed by the darkness that makes it impossible for the mirror to gaze at the opposite wall. Sometimes a person comes and stands in front of the mirror and the mirror cannot gaze at the opposite wall. 4. 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. It the second stanza the mirror appears to be a lake. The difference between a lake and a mirror is that the lake is not "silver and exact" like a mirror and it has more depth. The lake is a symbol for the private, hidden self. It shows that which society cannot see. 5. What is the woman searching for in the depths of the pool? Ans. The woman is looking into herself to se what she really is. She is searching for her private, hidden self. It is a side of her which society cannot see, but it is the truth which she knows about herself. 6. How does the narrator convey the fact that the woman looking at her reflection in the lake is deeply distressed?
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    Ans. The woman is agitated. She wrings her hands in distress and then when she cannot bear the truth, she turns her back on it in favour of 'those liars, the candles or the moon' who soften the harsh edges. 7. What makes the woman start crying? Ans. The woman looks into the lake and sees she is ageing. She looks at the her own reflection with loathing as she sees less and less of the young girl and more of the old woman. The rising of the "terrible fish" refers to the aged woman whose skin is turning ugly. It also refers to the woman's self-loathing as she considers herself unworthy of being loved. This makes her cry. 8. What do you think the 'terrible fish' in the last line symbolizes? What is the poetic device used here? Ans. The terribly ugly fish rising towards her is the fear of aging that rises from the depths of her repressed mind. It is a sad, angered and emotionless woman at the end who comes to the realization that, one day, she will grow terribly old and die. It also symbolizes the woman's self-loathing and perception of herself as being incapable of loving and as cold as a fish. The poetic device is symbolism. ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS 1. Why does the woman not like the mirror? Ans. This poem explores the relationship that we have with truth, and particularly the truth about ourselves. The mirror doesn't tell lies, it, in fact, tells the truth. It is objective- exact' and without 'preconceptions', swallowing whatever it sees without a second thought, 'unmisted by love or dislike'. The mirror is, 'not cruel, only truthful'- but Plath suggests that truth itself is cruel for human beings, and we turn away from it, presenting only our backs to those mirrors that offer to show it to us. The woman does not like the blemishes which the mirror shows her and turns away to 'those liars, the candles or the moon
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    2. Why is the woman bending over the lake? Ans. The lake is something else into which humans have traditionally gazed in search of their own reflection. The lake is not as exacts as the mirror and hence the person who looks into it will get a flattering view of himself or herself as the reflection in the lake can be distorted by the ripples in the water. Though some of her imperfections are hidden by the water, here too the woman moves away as the depth of the lake reflects her repressed mind. She turns to more flattering devices like the candles and the moon.

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