A Comparative Analysis between Plath’s ‘Mirror’ and Wimbrow’s ‘The Guy in the Glass’ poems : Part 1
By Jennyfer Laurencia
5th semester student
SYLVIA PLATH was born in Boston, Massachusetts. She published her very first poem when she was barely eight years old. She was described as a brilliant young girl compelled to perfection. When she earned a scholarship to Smith College, she had already had an impressive list of publications. Following the death of her father, however, Plath suffered a severe depression. She had even attempted suicide repeatedly. After a period of recovery, she resumed her education, graduating with summa cum-laude and earning a Fulbright Scholarship at Cambridge University, England.
In her mid-twenties, Plath was married to Ted Hughes, a fellow English poet; however, the marriage last just a little longer than six years. Thereafter, she moved into a small flat in London with her two young children. She often experienced a great burst of creativity, frequently writing poems in between the late nights and daybreaks. At thirty years of age, she committed suicide. Two years later, a collection of her last poetry was published by her former husband, who inherited the copyrights of her works.
PETER DALE WIMBROW was born in Whaleyville, Maryland. He studied music and radio at Western Maryland College. Although his poem, The Guy in the Glass, became famous after being published in The American Magazine, the author’s credit was often omitted. During later publications, the piece had even falsely attributed to an anonymous man who died because of struggles with drug-abuse. It was not until several decades later that the column officially identified the true author as Wimbrow.
Reason for Choosing the Poems
It has always been delightful for people to witness tragedy in the lives of others, and Sylvia Plath’s chaotic, less than happy life, is of no exception. She, by living the way she lived, had attracted lots of attention, be it to herself, or to pieces of her writing. I am just one of many others who have become so enthralled in the emotional intensity of her confessional poetry.
For me, MIRROR is the poem that induces lots of contemplation; it is reflecting a deeper truth I have yet to comprehend. THE GUY IN THE GLASS, as its accompanying piece, is much easier to be discerned, particularly because of the simplicity in both structure and diction. Until I do the thorough analysis, however, I shall not presume that I have fathomed one more than the other.
MIRROR consists of eighteen lines. It is divided into two stanzas of nine lines. Unlike the previous poem, however, THE GUY IN THE GLASS has twenty lines altogether. It is of five stanzas, each contains four lines, which is also known as the quatrain.
B. Syntactical Orientation
Accentuated by the subsequent use of conjunction ‘and’, the syntactical structure of MIRROR is far less sophisticated compared toTHE GUY IN THE GLASS, which has both the coordinating conjunctions ‘and’, ‘for’, ‘but’, as well asthe subordinating conjunctions ‘when’, and ‘who’.Nevertheless, these two poemsbear a resemblance to each other, particularly in terms of the frequent use of punctuations. That both pieces are presented in hypotactic syntax, therefore, is indicated by the fairly dominant placement of conjunctions and punctuations.
There are two enjambments in MIRROR. The first occurs at the end of the seventh line, represented by the clause ‘I have looked at it so long’, as well as‘I think it is part of my heart’, which is of the following line. The second enjambment is found at the last two lines of the next stanza, indicated by the clause ‘In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman’, and ‘Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish’. In this free verse poem, the use of enjambment is merely to accentuate the prominence ofboth the phrase ‘so long’ and the word ‘rises’, establishingfar greater impression throughout the piece.
Compared to the previous poem, THE GUY IN THE GLASS has significantly more enjambments.The first one is found in the last two lines of the second stanza, represented by the clause, ‘The feller whose verdict counts most in your life’, and ‘Is the guy staring back from the glass’. The second enjambment occurs at the end of the third stanza, indicated by the clause, ‘And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test’, as well as ‘If the guy in the glass is your friend’, which is of the following line. The third can be found in the last two lines of the fourth stanza, represented by the clause, ‘But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum’, and ‘If you can’t look him straight in the eye’. The fourth enjambment appears at the end of the fifth stanza, indicated by the clause, ‘But your final reward will be heartaches and tears’, as well as ‘If you’ve cheated the guy in the glass’. The use of enjambment in this poem, on the other hand, is solely to preserve the meticulously crafted rhyme.
D. Rhyme Scheme
MIRROR is a free verse poem. Despite being divided into two stanzas, it has no rhyme whatsoever. Below is an excerpt of the piece:THE GUY IN THE GLASS, on the contrary, has faithfully followed the most commonly used alternate rhyme, with exception of its last stanza. Below is the rhyme scheme of the poem:
A. Figurative Language
Metaphor and personification are the most common figurative languages in both poems; therefore, each shall be analysed in a separate section. For the few others, however, the analysis is to be merged intoone particular section, and placed under the name of every existing figurative language.
Continued to: Part 2
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