By Jennyfer Laurencia
A 5th Semester student
Sylvia Plath’s MIRROR contains several metaphors. In the first stanza, they are represented by the word ‘swallow’ of the second line, ‘unmisted’ of the third line, and the phrase ‘the eye of a little god’ of the fifth line. In the second stanza, this figurative language is indicated by the word ‘reaches’ of the eleventh line, ‘replaces’ of the sixteenth line, as well as the phrase‘a young girl’ of the seventeenth line, and ‘an old woman’ of the last line.
The use of metaphor in the word ‘swallow’ is to imply that, as a mirror, the persona of this poem has no preconceptions.It perceives everything as it is, and reflects it faithfully. Much like the previous expression, the word ‘unmisted’ portrays the truthfulness of a mirror. Originating from the word mist, it is meant to emphasise the state of emotional detachment, that the persona reflects everything indifferently, with no feelings oflove or dislike. The phrase ‘the eye of a little god’, on the other hand, obliquely compares the mirror to the eye of a celestial entity, particularly for its sublime characteristics of being truthful, which isalso frequently mistaken as cruelty.
In the word ‘reaches’, the use of metaphor is to depict the thoroughness of a search, that the woman is indesperate needs to find her true self, or what she really is. The following expression, ‘replaces’, functions merely as an outlet to accentuate the importance of a presence, that by being present, this lady fills void of darkness which always lingers in the persona’s sight. The phrase ‘a young girl’ and ‘an old woman’,are comparatively used to contrast the past with the future. A young girl symbolises whatever belongs to the past, be it childhood memories, bitter experiences or anything that is discarded once the woman’s younger self drowned. An old woman, on the contrary, signifies the future, which rises to welcome her day after day whether she is prepared or not.
Compared to the previous poem, Dale Wimbrow’sTHE GUY IN THE GLASS, has significantly more metaphors. In the first two stanzas, they are represented by the word, ‘King’ of the second line, ‘guy’ of the fourth line, ‘judgement’ of the sixth line, ‘verdict’ of the seventh line, and ‘glass’ of the eighth line. On the following stanza, this figurative language can be found in every line, respectively indicated by the phrase, ‘all the rest’ of the ninth line, ‘to the end’ of the tenth line, as well as the word ‘test’of the eleventh line, and ‘friend’ of the twelfth line. There is no metaphor in the fourth stanza;however, the ones that occur in the last stanza are represented by the word ‘pathway’ of the seventeenth line, ‘pats on the back’ of the eighteenth line, and ‘cheated’ of the twentieth line.
In the word ‘King’, the use of metaphor is to depict the state of possessing both power and fortune. Thus the king of for a day implies that neither of the two last for long. The following expression, ‘guy’, portrays a comparison of different kind, particularly because that guyis no more than a reflection upon the mirror. The closely related words ‘judgement’ and ‘verdict’ are respectively associated with public and personal awareness towards morality, that an act of introspection exhibits significance much more than people’s thoughts. The word ‘glass’, which also integrated with the title, is in itself,a representation of the reflecting entity, mirror, in reference to the third line of the first stanza.
The use of metaphor in the phrase ‘all the rest’ is to accentuate the prominence of conscience, that all the rest, be it the surrounding people or any other entity, is of no importance. Much like the previous expression, the phrase ‘to the end’ emphasises the last moment of life, that only one self, be it the mind, the spirit, or the soul, remains intact all the way to the end. The word, ‘test’, on the other hand, refers tothe trials of life.Thus dangerous, difficult test signifies one’s struggle to surmount travails and afflictions of being alive. Furthermore, the word‘friend’serves as an outlet to indicate absolute necessity of being truthful to oneself.
In the word ‘pathway’, the use of metaphor is to represent life’s journey. The pathway of years, therefore, is intricately designed to induce an understanding of the course of life, which consisted of many years.The following phrase, ‘pats on the back’, is meant to imply the state of approval from others, whilst the word ‘cheated’ figuratively expressesthe deception towards one’s own conscience, in reference to the last two lines of the poem.
There are a few personifications in Sylvia Plath’s MIRROR. In the first stanza, this figurative language is represented by the phrase ‘I am silver and exact’of the first line, as well as the word ‘meditate’ of the sixth line, and ‘separate’ of the last line. In the second stanza, however, it only occurs in the phrase ‘Now I am a lake’ of the tenth line, and ‘those liars’ of the twelfth line.
In reference to the poem’s title ‘Mirror’, the use of personification in the phrase ‘I am silver and exact’, is to indicate that the persona is an inanimate object which generates thoughts and perceives itself as a living being. Much like the previous expression, the word ‘meditate’ is meant to accentuate the action performed by that particular object, albeit its imperceptibility. The following word, ‘separate’, however, portrays an occasion in which faces and darkness, respectively regarded as unspecified and abstract, function together to conduct a certain act.
The use of personification in the phrase ‘Now I am a lake’ depicts a shift of perspective. Signified by the word now, the persona introduces itself no longer as a mirror, but another reflecting entity, a lake. The phrase ‘those liars’, on the other hand, refers to the candles and the moon, addressing both inanimate objects as living beings.
Contrary to the previous poem, only one personification is found in Dale Wimbrow’sTHE GUY IN THE GLASS. Throughout this piece, also integrated with the title, the word ‘guy’ is repeatedly utilized to personify the conscience,which serves as the guidance to lead a noble, virtuous life.
Simile, Metonymy, Paradox and Allusion
Other figurative languages inSylvia Plath’s MIRROR are simile, metonymy, and paradox, which, in a particular order, represented by the phrase ‘like a terrible fish’of the last line, ‘her face’ of the sixteenth line, and ‘rewards me with tears and agitation of hands’ of the fourteenth line, all occurs in the second stanza.
In comparison to the previous poem, Dale Wimbrow’sTHE GUY IN THE GLASS contains a simile that is also an allusion, a hyperbole, and a paradox, respectively indicated by the phrase ‘like Jack Horner’ of the thirteenth line, ‘the whole world’ of the fifteenth line, as well as ‘your final reward will be heartaches and tears’ of the nineteenth line, all of which occur in the last two stanzas.
In MIRROR, the phrase ‘like a terrible figuratively expresses a comparison between the unceasing struggle in life and the tormented state of a fish outside the water. The use of simile, therefore, is to accentuate the implied literal meanings without explicitly stating them word by word. The phrase ‘like Jack Horner’ from THE GUY IN THE GLASS, on the other hand, functions merely to emphasize the existing association between the persona and Jack Horner, whilst the use of allusion serves as an outlet to portray certain deeds that can be related to his enigmatic presence.
The use of metonymy in MIRROR is meant to imply the significance of an identity, for the phrase ‘her face’, which constitutes the most conspicuous part of the woman in reference of her entire being, reveals the prominence of her presence, that it must be her who replaces the darkness, and no other. In its own way, this figurative expression also indicates the persona’s imperceptible attachment to this particular lady.
In THE GUY IN THE GLASS, the phrase ‘the whole world’ exaggeratedly representspeople surrounding the persona, because it is fairly implausible for an individual to know, let alone be known, by the entire world. Thus the hyperbole is used merely for the sake of embellishment.
The phrase ‘rewards me with tears and agitation of hands’ in MIRROR, isin itself, a contradiction. Thus the use of paradox is to enhancethe apparent incongruity between both rewards and tears and agitation of hands, which further unravels the persona’s emotional attachment to the woman, particularly because it regards any kind of gift it receives, including anguish and pain, as a reward.In THE GUY IN THE GLASS, on the contrary, the phrase ‘your final reward will be heartaches and tears’is utilized to induce a threat, that by ignoring conscience, the persona shall suffer tremendously.
Continued to : Part 3
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