Class 10 English Mirror Summary and Important Questions

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ABOUT THE POET

Sylvia Path (1932-1963) who also used the pseudonym Victoria Lucas was born in Massachusetts on October 27, 1932. During her early childhood, Sylvia's father Onto suffered from a lengthy illness and died just days past Sylvia's 8th birthday.
Although brief in conventional terms, Sylvia's life was rich in experiences. She received accolades in the form of prizes, awards, and scholarships. In 1982 she received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her Collected Poems.
Bright, intelligent and determined ,Sylvia had a burning desire to write. She was a high achiever who was never able to quite reach the very high expectations the set for herself. Stricken with self doubt and depression, Sylvia had a troubled life.
She was married to Ted Hughes who was himself a very famous poet.
"On February 11, 1963 Sylvia gave up her life.
 
Introduction

Giving an autobiographical account of itself, the mirror has highlighted its qualities in the poem "Mirror". Claiming that though certain images reflected in it might be painful to certain people at certain stages of their lives, it is in no way responsible for causing this pain. The whole poem is a reflection of the mirror's point of view.
 
Summary

This eighteen line poem presents the mirror as a person, who reveals in a monologue who it is, what it does and how it reflects and affects the life of the people who view themselves in it.
Unlike the people who view themselves in it, the mirror is free from any preconceptions and prejudices. Its 'reflection' or view of others is not distorted by emotion of love or hatred, as is the case with human beings. Human beings might selves in true colours, but the mirror reflects only the truth. Consider at cruel as at shown them their real.
Like God, the mirror is also omniscient. It sees all. It gazes constantly on the wall opposite it for so long that the wall becomes a part of its consciousness and existence. The wall is pink with traces of age on it like patches of discoloration. The mirror's view of the wall is interrupted when an old woman stands between the two. Darkness or the night separates the mirror from the 'wall' for no view is possible without the light.
Next, the mirror calls itself a lake for the acts like a mirror. It reflects everything in its true likeness. As the ageing woman faces the mirror, it projects her very truthfully. Her wrinkled face upsets her. Rubbing her hands anxiously, and with tears in her eyes, she stands in front of the mirror again and again, Every morning, she starts the day having a good look at herself. Probably she searches for the young face which over years got merged with the mirror. Instead she catches sight of an old woman
who emerges out of the pond of time like a terrible fish.
 
THEME

The poem deals with our sense of anxiety when we start showing signs of ageing. Everyone wishes to stay youthful and beautiful all one's life. However, this being against the law of nature, can never be possible. Hence we need to develop an inner strength to face all stages of life gracefully.
 
MESSAGE

The poem conveys the message that rather than living in the world of illusions, we need to change our attitude and learn to face and accept reality without indulging in self-pity.
 
TITLE

The poem deals with, mirror's exactness, truthfulness and human beings' relationship with it for years together. The whole poem revolves around the mirror, hence "Mirror" is an appropriate title.
 
 
SOLVED QUESTIONS

Q.1 How does the mirror 'swallow'? What is the poetic device used here ?
Ans. Reflecting what is present in front of it, the mirror doesn't reproduce anything that appeared before it in past. Hence the poet has beautifully used the expression 'swallow' to convey this idea. Like human beings it is shown to consume and draw in what it is fed. Hence, the poet has used personification in the above lines.
 
 
Q.2: What poetic device has been used when the mirror calls itself lake ? What is the woman searching for in the depths of the lake?
Ans. The poet has made use of a metaphor. Rather than comparing the mirror to a lake, the mirror has been called a lake. The woman is searching for her lost youth and beauty in this lake. She is also having a close look at her face to gauge the damage that time has done.
 
Q.3: Why does the woman start crying ? What does her weeping reveal about her character ?
Ans. The woman once young, has started losing her youth and beauty. Not ready to accept the change, she is very upset and she starts weeping. It reveals her to be a woman of weak and vain character whose life becomes miserable because she cannot reconcile to her ageing gracefully.
 
Q.4: What is personification ? Quote some examples of personification from the poem "Mirror"?
Ans. Personification is the practice of attributing human qualities, a character or personality to inanimate or abstract things or non-human creatures such that they appear to be living human beings. Here are a few examples of personification in the poem. First of all the mirror addresses itself as a person. The line "I am not cruel, only truthful" amply justifies it. Then again the mirror calls itself god. One can't skip the truth of it in the phrase "The eye of a.... Little god." Mirror has been compared to a lake also–" Now I am a lake". The poet also personifies "candles" and the "moon" by calling them liars. Thus the poet has made ample use of the poetic devices of personification.
 
Q.5 We need to adopt the mirror's outlook on life. Comment?
OR
What important lesson does the Mirror teach us ?
Ans. Most of us live in illusions and try to run away from reality. We are given to lies and falsehood. Our views are also affected by preconceptions and prejudices which mostly emerge from our feelings of likes and dislikes, love and hatred . Most of us get upset as a result of our prejudiced ideas and negative thinking. We need to see affected and reflected by time and age. If we adopt truthful, dispassionate and realistic outlook of the mirror in our life, we will not feel like a 'terrible fish' just as the woman in the poem does and would accept the inevitable fact of ageing in our lives gracefully.
 
Q.6: Why do you think the mirror's view or reflection of life is difficult to accept for most people
Ans. Most people view themselves in the mirror to see how young and beautiful they look. This satisfies their vanity and makes them love and admire themselves. But, harsh as it may seem, the mirror shown them the reality –how age and time have robbed them of their youth and beauty. Since most people are afraid of ageing, graying and dying, they find the mirror's reflection of their life difficult to accept because it is brutally true and real. Not willing to accept the harsh reality, they prefer to live in the illusions, but unmoved by their tears, worries and anxieties, the mirror continues to reveal their trueimages faithfully. In a way the mirror conveyers us the message to reconcile to the inevitable changes brought about by time gracefully.
 
Q.7: Though the mirror claims 'I am not cruel' it gives a lot of pain to the woman. It its claim justified ?Why do you think so ?
Ans. The mirror reflects truthfully and exactly what falls on its surface. Since it reflects the images without any addition or substraction it cannot be blamed for reflecting ugly image of the woman. In fact the mirror acts in a totally amoral (neither moral nor immoral) manner. As a matter of fact it behaves as a stoic (indifferent to pain or pleasure). Age has wrinkled and robbed the woman of her beauty. She is pained to see this ugliness but the mirror is in no way responsible for this ugliness and is not being cruel in reflecting her wrinkless that pain her. Hence, it is justified in claiming that it is not cruel. In reality, it is the woman who behaves in an immature manner and is infect responsible for inflicting torture upon herself by not accepting the hard fact of natural ageing.
 
 

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