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CBSE Class 10 English Literature Reader Solutions Mirror  

Mirror —–By Sylvia Plath
Introduction

Sylvia Plath, a famous English woman poet, has personified the mirror in this short poem which has a very deep meaning. She expresses the pains and sufferings of her life in her poetry in an exceptionally candid manner.

In the poem, “A Mirror”, a mere glass has been made vocal. It is allowed to speak about itself and defend against silly charges.

It asserts that it is exact and truthful. It reflects every face and every object without any biased feelings. It only reveals the truth about the person. It is God’s eye which notices every minute detail.
‘Mirror’ reflects the poet’s concern with ageing. It reflects the reality accurately, even though people often do not like what it shows them. The ageing woman who comes before it shudders at her reflection. The idea is that time affects one terribly. One grows old and loses one’s charm and brilliance. Reality cannot be evaded, though one can evade the mirror, the true reflector of reality.

Quick Review

In this poem, the mirror itself is the narrator. It is transparent and accurate. It truly reflects what is before it. It is free from prejudices. It is not cruel but only truthful. Most of the time it keeps on reflecting the blank wall with some spots, opposite it, except when somebody comes before it or when there is darkness,
The mirror may be called God’s eye because it reflects every one exactly from all four angles without any prejudice.
The mirror has become a lake or a pool of water. A woman looks into its depth to know correctly what she looks like now. She is growing old. She turns her back to the mirror and faces the candles or the moon. They give her a false view of her age and beauty. They tell lies and mislead her. But the mirror plays no tricks. She bursts into tears. The mirror gets her tears as a reward. The mirror knows that the woman has lost her youth. She has been using the mirror ever since she was a young girl. Now when she comes before it she is terrified to see an old woman rising towards her, day after day like a terrible fish.

Extract Based Questions (3 marks each)

Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow:

Q. 1. In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman.
Rises toward her day after day like a terrible fish.   (Board Term-12013, Set 8SRR)
(a) Why does the poet refer to the ‘terrible fish’ in the last line ?
(b) Why has it been described as being ‘terrible’ ?
(c) What does the phrase ‘in me she has drowned a young girl’ mean ?
Ans. (a) The phrase ‘terrible fish’ describes the hog like wrinkled face of the old woman.
(b) Loss of her youth and beauty makes her behave like a fish trapped in the pond of time which looks terrible without any grace or elegance.
(c) Since her youth she has been admiring her reflection in the mirror.

Q. 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.  (Board Tenn-12013, Set WKYS)
(a) Who does I refer to here ?
(b) What does the poet mean when she says the mirror has no preconceptions ?
(c) Which figure of speech is used in ‘I Swallow’.  
Ans. (a) I refers to the mirror.
(b) She means that the mirror is unbiased and reflects the image objectively.
(c) Personification.

Q.3.’I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.’ (Board Term-12012, Set 39)
(a) What does T refer to in these lines ?
(b) What is meant by ‘I have no preconceptions’ ?
(c) Why has mirror been depicted as ‘unmisted’ ?
Ans. (a) The mirror.
(b) T reflects your image objectively.
(c) The mirror is not biased either due to love or hate.

Q.4. I am not cruel, only truthful
The eye of a little God, four cornered   (Board Term-12012, Set 37)
(a) Who is T in the above lines ?
(b) Why is T only truthful ?
(c) Which poetic device has been used in line ?
Ans. (a) The mirror.
(b) Because it reflects what it sees.
(c) Metaphor.

Q.5.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.  (Board Term-12012, Set 24)
(a) What is it which is pink with speckles ?
(b) When does it flicker ?
(c) Who is ‘us’ in the last line ?  
Ans. (a) The wall. ‘
(b) When faces and darkness come in between.
(c) The wall and the mirror.

Q. 6.I think it’s part of my heart but it flickers
Faces and darkness separate us over and over   (Board Term-12012, Set 24)
(a) Who is the speaker ?
(b) What is separated from it ?
(c) The poetic device used here is……………..
Ans. (a) The mirror.
(b) The wall.
(c) Personification.

Q.7.”I am important to her. She comes and goes
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 toward her day after day like a terrible fish.”  (Board Term-12012, Set 51)
(a) How is the mirror important to her ?
(b) How has the mirror drowned a young girl and replaced her with an old woman ?
(c) Which peotic device in used in line 4 ?
Ans. (a) It satisfies her curiosity.
(b) The young woman has been growing old day by day.
(c) Simile.

Q. 8.A woman bends over me.
Searching my reaches for what she really is
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon   (Board Term-12012, Set 48)
(a) What is the woman bending over ?
(b) The candles and moon have been called liars because……………..
(c) The woman goes to them even though they are liars because……………..
Ans. (a) The mirror.
(b) They hide the blemishes and make people look beautiful in dim light.
(c) The reality is too harsh for her to bear.

Short Answer Type Questions (2 marks each)

Q.1.What does the woman search for in the mirror everyday ? (Board 2014, Set 8L1922Q, QUD9VQW)
Ans. Value Points:
The woman searches for her lost beauty in the lake and mirror-her lost young age. (CBS1 Marking Scheme, 2014)

Detailed Answer:
The woman stands in front of the mirror everyday and searches for her lost beauty in the lake and the mirror. She feels agitated of the loss of her young age as she’s not able to accept the reality of her lost youth.

Q.2.Why has mirror been called cruel ? (Board Term-I 2013, Set 7PZ8)
Or
Why does the poet call the mirror ‘cruel’ ? (Board Term-I 2012, Set 24)
Ans. Mirror is honest and shows the true reflection. It does not reflect false images so people in their agitation call it cruel.

Q.3.Why is mirror called a ‘four cornered God’ ? (Board Term-I 2012, Set 19)
Ans. The mirror is unbiased, and from all angles it looks at its subjects like God. He treats them without any preferences.

Q.4.What do you think the ‘terrible fish’ in the poem, ‘Mirror’ symbolizes ? What is the poetic device used here ?  (Board Term-I 2012, Set 50)
Ans. Terrible fish symbolizes wrinkled, old face of the woman which has lost its youth and beauty. She can’t come to terms with her change. Only mirror makes her realize that she is no more young and beautiful. She feels agitated and behaves like a terrible fish.

Q.5.How has Sylvia Plath used the poetic device of ‘personification’ to describe the Mirror ? (Board Term-I 2012, Set 51)
Ans. Mirror describes itself as silver-coloured and exact. It has no preconceived notions and is not affected by love, hate or other emotions. It is objective and unbiased-woman, who bends over it can see what she really is as the mirror doesn’t lie or deceives like candles or moon. It indulges in human activities – ‘sees’, ‘swallows’, ‘mediates’ and ‘thinks’.

Q. 6. How has Sylvia Plath projected mirror ? (Board Term-I 2012, Set 53)
Ans. Sylvia Plath has projected mirror as unmisted and non-biased. Unprejudiced, with no preconceived ideology, it projects the crystal clear image of an object facing it. Having four comers, it reflects all that it captures realistically and is impartial.

Q. 7. What are the personal qualities the mirror claims to possess ? (Board Term-I 2012, Set 55)
Ans. Mirror is silver and exact. It has no preconceptions. It is unbiased and truthful. It is neither cruel nor indifferent.
It has four comers and has the eye of a little God.

Q. 8. Give evidence from the poem, ‘Mirror’ to prove that the mirror is exact and truthful. (Board Term-I 2012, Set 59)
Ans. The mirror is exact. It symbolizes truthfulness. It is free from all distortions. It shows things as they are. It doesn’t hesitate to show flaws, signs of old age or loss of beauty and youth. Objectivity is the main trait of the mirror, whatever it sees, it reflects faithfully.

Q. 9. What does the mirror do most of the time ? (Board Term-I 2011, Set 14)
Ans. The mirror spends most of its time watching and meditating on the opposite pink wall quietly. It keeps reflecting the opposite wall, so much that it has become a part of its heart.

Q. 10. What aspect of life has been discussed in the poem ‘Mirror’. Mention two poetic devices used in the poem.  (Board Term-I 2011, Set 17)
Ans. The process of ageing has been discussed in this poem. The two poetic devices used in this poem are personification and metaphor.

Q. 11. Why is the woman, looking into the mirror, agitated ? (Board Term-I 2011, Set 27)
Ans. The woman is agitated because the mirror shows her the true reflection. She notices her ageing image in it and realizes that she is losing her charm.

Q. 12. What according to Sylvia Plath, are the qualities of a mirror ? (Board Term-12011,2009)
Ans. Sylvia Plath presents mirror as a symbol of truth, reality and objectivity. Unlike human beings, it is free from any preconception and prejudices, unmisted by emotions of love and hatred. Mirror has compared itself to an eye of ‘ a little God, viewing everything in an unbiased and fair manner. It calls itself a lake because like a lake it reflects what is shown to it truthfully. 1

Q. 13. Why are the candles and the moon called liars ? (NCT 2014) (Board Term-12012, Set 28)  
Ans. The moon and the candles are called liars as they never reveal the truth about anyone. They give the false reflection as they make things look brighter and glowing than they actually are.

Q. 14. What does the phrase, ‘terrible fish’ symbolize in the poem, ‘Mirror’?  
Ans. The ‘terrible fish’ refers to the fear of ageing that rises from the depths of her repressed mind, it also symbolizes the woman’s self loathing and perception of herself as being unworthy of being loved and as old as a fish. !

Q. 15. Why does the woman turn to those liars, the candles and the moon in the poem ‘Mirror’ ? ,
Ans. The woman turns to the liars because they give her a false picture of being young which she is not. The mirror shows the real picture.

Q. 16. Why is it said that the mirror swallows everything it sees ?
Ans. The mirror says that whatever it sees, it absorbs that image and reflects it. It reflects the reality as it sees, uninfluenced by love or dislike.

Q. 17. Why does the woman reject the mirror and turn towards the candles and the moon ?
Ans. She is unable to accept the reality that the mirror shows her that she is ageing and isn’t pretty any more. The candle and the moon don’t show her the harsh reality that she has lost her youth and beauty.

Long Answer Type Questions (4 marks each)

Q. 1. As the central character of the poem The Mirror, write a letter to your best friend sharing your fear of ageing.  (Board 2014, Set PRE2N18, QUD9VQW)
Ans. Letter writing (Value Points): ^

Content-2 marks

– what I look in the mirror-do not want to believe it
– I’m really scared of losing my beauty as I’m growing older
– Still want to look magnificent
– The thought of growing old is killing
– Do you also have the same fears
– Please help me come out of this situation

Detailed Answer:
463, ABC Street
London
14th May 20 xx

Dear Pam

You were the first one to enter my thought when I wanted to share with someone my fear of ageing. I shudder at my reflection in the mirror. I do not want to believe that I am growing old with each passing day. I am losing my beauty and moving towards old age and that scares me. I want to look magnificent and gorgeous as ever.

This ageing process is scaring the wits out of me. The thought of growing old is killing. I feel that I am losing my charm and brilliance which is not acceptable to me. I know that this is the reality of life and I should not be thinking this way but somehow I am unable to cope up with the thought. I feel dejected and frustrated. Is this dejection and frustration universal ? Do you also feel the same way ? Are you also scared of getting old ?

Please help me come out of this situation. I am concerned and don’t want to get affected in such a terrifying manner.

Yours sincerely Sylvia

Q. 2. Imagine you are the mirror. Make a diary entry on a day in your life. (Board Term-12011, Set 41)

Ans. 31 March, Friday 9 p.m.
Dear Diary

Today, I was just wondering how I spend my whole day. I realized that most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall. It is only the faces and darkness that separate us. Every morning a lady bends over me to know

what she really is but when I reflect her image faithfully, she is upset and agitated. She feels so because she sees her exact image of an ageing woman. I am exact. I have no preconceptions. I reflect the image in an unbiased way as I am unmisted by love or dislike. That’s why the woman feels agitated. But I am happy with myself as I show people how and what they exactly are.

Q. 3. How does Sylvia Plath effectively use personification in her poem ‘The Mirror’ ? (Board Term-12011, Set 33)
Ans. ‘The Mirror’ is a perfect example of personification. The poet has successfully endowed human qualities to the mirror. The mirror tells about itself ‘I am exact’. It has no prejudices or preconceptions in its mind. It shows images as they are reflected in it. The whole day it meditates on the opposite wall which is pink and speckled. It is unmisted and when the lady looks into the mirror, she gets agitated and upset at seeing her ageing image. Thus, Sylvia Plath has effectively used personification in this poem.

Q. 4. What message does the poet wish to convey through the poem ‘Mirror’ ?
Ans. ‘Mirror’ is a reflective poem. The mirror reflects the life of human beings in all its reality. Its reflection is neither twisted nor distorted. It describes the true nature of things. It has no preconceptions and personal likes or dislikes and gives an exact image of what comes before it. It is not affected by any feelings of love or hatred. In this modem era, everyone is living under an illusion. Everyone feels like the woman who looks into the mirror which is a lake for her, feels like a fish out of water and is not prepared to accept the reality of advancing age. Old age or ugliness is a hard and cruel fact that can’t be escaped. Here the idea and the message of ageing is conveyed through the poem by the poet Sylvia Plath.

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