Class 10 Literature Reader


Sylvia Plath


This poem is about mirror. It can also be said that this poem is about the character of mirror. Mirrors are shiny and show exactly what is before them. Mirrors have no prejudices. They are not cruel but only show the truth. The mirror continuously stares at the opposite wall. They have been seeing each other for such a long period that both appear to belong to each other.

Their face to face interaction is only disturbed when there is no light or when someone is standing to see his/her appearance in the mirror. The mirror is like a four-eyed God which watches us unbiased and from all angles.

A lady comes in front of the mirror. The lady has been doing this since ages. For her, the mirror becomes a lake and she searches her true personality in the fathomless depth of the lake. She had lost her childhood and her youth in this mirror.

Every day, the old age is menacingly advancing towards that lady like a terrible fish. Like everyone, the lady can also see in the mirror that her end is approaching her.

Exercise Questions

Multiple Choice Questions:

Question 1: When the mirror is being described as being 'unmisted by love or dislike' we understand that the mirror is

  1. not misted
  2. not prejudiced
  3. has four angles
  4. is silver in colour

    Answer: (b) not prejudiced

Question 2: The other word for 'contemplation' is………..

  1. contempt
  2. meditation
  3. mediation
  4. thoughtful

    Answer: (d) Thoughtful

Question 3: When the mirror says 'it has no preconceptions' it means that:

  1. it reflects back an image objectively
  2. it modifies an image as it reflects it
  3. it beautifies an image as it reflects it
  4. it gives a biased view of a person/object

    Answer: (a) It reflects back an image objectively

Question 4: The mirror has been called 'a four-cornered god' because:

  1. it is square shaped
  2. like God it watches you unbiased and fair from all four angles
  3. it reflects back all that it sees
  4. it never stops reflecting

    Answer: (b) Like God, it watches you unbiased and fair from all four angles

Question 5: The 'speckles' refer to:

  1. a pink object
  2. the opposite wall which has spots on it
  3. a person with pink pimples
  4. pink spots in general

    Answer: (d) Pink spots in general

Question 6: The phrase 'agitation of the hand' suggests that the person is:

  1. very ill
  2. very upset
  3. very angry
  4. very happy

    Answer: (b) Very upset

Question 7: By saying 'Now I am a lake' the narrator wants to show that

  1. the poem is not only about external beauty but also the inside of a person
  2. the lake can also reflect surfaces
  3. the depth of the lake is important
  4. the lake does not show as exact an image as a mirror

    Answer: (a) The poem is not only about external beauty but also the inside of a person

Answer the following questions briefly

Question 1: What is the poetic device used when the mirror says 'I swallow'?

Answer: In this case, the poet has used a metaphor. A mirror does not reject anything rather accepts everything which is presented in front of it.

Question 2: How does the mirror usually pass its time?

Answer: The mirror most passes most of its time by staring at the opposite wall. It has been doing that since so long that the wall appears like an inseparable part of the mirror.

Question 3: What disturbs the mirror's contemplation of the opposite wall?

Answer: Two things disturb the mirror’s contemplation of the opposite wall. One of them is darkness and another is someone standing in front of the mirror.

Question 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?

Answer: Like a lake, a mirror is very deep and hides so many secrets and mysteries in its innards. A mirror is the place where someone may have lost her childhood, her youth, or her innocence. Whatever is lost in this depth is lost forever. You cannot recover your past from the depth of a mirror.

Question 5: What is the woman searching for in the depths of the lake?

Answer: The woman is searching her true personality in the mirror. She knows that those who appreciate her beauty are liars and only the mirror can tell the truth.

Question 6: How does the narrator convey the fact that the woman looking at her reflection in the lake is deeply distressed?

Answer: When she looks in the mirror, she waves her hands frantically. This shows that the lady must be deeply distressed.

Question 7: What makes the woman start crying?

Answer: When the lady discovers that mirror is showing nothing but the truth, she begins to cry. She is crying because she is glad that the mirror had been faithful to her.

Question 8: What do you think the 'terrible fish' in the last line symbolizes? What is the poetic device used here?

Answer: The poet has used ‘terrible fish’ as a metaphor. In this case, advancing age is the terrible fish. All of us age every day and cannot escape the harsh fact that one day all of us shall become too old, too weak and too unattractive.

Question 9: Find the various instances of personification used in this poem.

Answer: The mirror has been personified in many cases. At first, the mirror has been personified as the God who looks at us from all angles. Then the mirror has been personified as a lake which hides so many secrets in its depth.

Question 10: Read the given lines and answer the questions that follow by ticking the correct choice:

A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.

What is the woman bending over?

  1. the mirror
  2. the lake
  3. the opposite wall
  4. the moon and the candles

    Answer: (a) The mirror

Why have the candles and the moon been called 'liars'?

  1. because they make people beautiful
  2. they hide the blemishes of people with their soft light
  3. they hide the blemishes and make people look beautiful in their soft glow
  4. they can't talk

    Answer: (c) They hide the blemishes and make people look beautiful in their soft glow

Why does she turn to them in spite of calling them 'liars'?

  1. the reality is too harsh for her to bear
  2. she is desperately looking for someone to comfort her
  3. she wants to be told that she is still beautiful
  4. she can hide her signs of graying in their light

    Answer: She is desperately looking for someone to comfort her