The poems mirror and spinster by Sylvia Plath are unique in the presentation of a theme of loneliness engulfing the protagonists. The poem mirror is written in free verse with no set pattern of rhythm and rhyme. The poem probes into the corners of human nature, Beauty, life and death and deals at large with the eternal truth of human life.
The mirror is isolated and alienated from humanity. It likes to be associated with the wall and through the wall it has plenty of opportunities to reflect on human life-its joys and fears. And it despises anyone that comes between it and the wall, thereby disturbing its meditation in isolation.The wall is a part and parcel of its existence.
The mirror serves as an emblem of objective truth. But it is not cruel. The mirror is a metaphor that teaches humanity that appearances are secondary. It is like the eye of god that reflects the truth.
The mirror is objective about everything it observes, and gives a vent to its feelings without any bias, prejudice or discrimination. It takes pride in its honesty. The mirror also deplores the sad fate of humanity where man is not ready to reconcile to the hard facts of life. By becoming a lake the poetess further dwells on the theme of loneliness.
But the lessons that the mirror and the lake give us are rendered futile. The process of ageing is intolerable to the old woman who prefers to take the help of liars in order to harbor the illusion that she is still beautiful. The poem spinster by Sylvia Plath is a remarkable poem in that it gives us an insight into the psychology of woman. The poem is highly feministic in nature as it evokes a number of feministic issues as female identity and individuality.
The particular girl or the poetess does not want to be stereotyped woman that is crushed by the brunt of a male dominated society where women are commoditized and objectified.She wants to follow a road that will make all the difference. She will walk on a path that will run contrary to all the others but this path is the only ray of hope and enlightment in this material world dominated by violence, brutality and disparity. She cuts herself off from the demon of love marriage and sex.
Solitude is the panacea that will give her life a new meaning and a new dimension. Sylvia Plath beautifully helps us understand her psyche by comparing spring with winter. Spring is the season of love, mating and singing.The particular girl is averse to the courting of her suitor in the month of April.
He is the latest suitor of this spinster. The word latest shows that it is not her extempore decision to keep away from the connubial bliss; to the contrary it is a much deliberated action on her part. The chirping of the birds and the foliage of leaves make her despise the beauty of spring. Like Shelley’s ode to autumn, she too looks forward to listening the harsh music of autumn, where there is cold and austerity.
The cold is a metaphor for loneliness, as it freezes all temptations and emotions.Winter will help away transcend the passions and cravings for human flesh. Spring is slovenly while winter is revivifying. Winter inculcates the thoughts of discipline and self control while summer that of fruition and sensuality.
The arousal of her sensuality is treason for her as she tends to become a martinet, away from the bedlam of love and hatred; joy and fear. She does not want to become a victim of patriarchy by pulling herself to the altar; for her the vows of celibacy are more prominent. She is of the opinion that her individuality is more important than her social obligations.She withdraws her hand slowly from her suitor’s, and this gesture is symbolical of her breaking all relationship from the prevalent customs and convictions.
The wall of her chastity and the armor of her loneliness are far stronger than the shield of Achilles as they are impregnable by weather or man. Thus her action, however deplorable it might seem to others, makes her invulnerable to the threats of patriarchy in this mortal world where sex, violence, threat and subjugation are the order of the day! The rhyme scheme of the poem spinster reflects the inner turmoil and panic of the girl.Plath uses nature and the seasons as a metaphor to depict the psychology of the girl. She has written the poem in a serious and depressed tone.
The particular serves as a role model teaching the fair sex how to seek their individual existence. Conclusion The poems mirror and spinster dwell and create an atmosphere of loneliness. It is the element of loneliness only that gives them a new meaning and opportunity to reflect and contemplate on the human destiny. The mirror too feels disturbed when some object intervenes between it and the wall.
Just like the spinster it envisages its future incarcerated in the four walls of the room, and in the barricade, that serve as the symbols of their solitude. The mirror’s loneliness is disturbed by people that came to look at themselves in the mirror, while that of the woman is at stake whenever she is with a suitor. They take pride in their existence far away from the maddening crowd, away from the din of cacophonous sounds and the threats of insurgence. Both take delight in their existence away from any intruder disrupting their privacy and individuality.
The walls and the barbed wire act as symbols to illustrate their independence paradoxically. The mirror and the spinster both want to live away from the vicious circle of love and dislike. The didactic poems have an autobiographical touch also. Although Sylvia Plath was married her marriage was not a happy one.
Following a long struggle with depression and a marital separation, she committed suicide in 1963. Thus her life was marked by loneliness and isolation as she was also deserted by her father. She was often called a silent woman.