Throughout her short story, “The Lady in the Looking Glass: A Reflection”, Virginia Woolf writes of the sad self portrait of a woman who, examined from both outside and in, finds herself unsatisfactory. By implementing modern features of theme and style, Woolf creates a character to reflect on herself and she employs modern ideas of narration and character to illustrate a fuller, more complete image of the character. The title and subtitle of the story, “The Lady in the Looking Glass: A Reflection” indicates that throughout the story, the audience will observe a woman via her reflection in a looking glass.
However, one does not use a looking glass to view another person, but to view themself. This clue leads the reader to believe that the character of focus is not that of Isabella Tyson, but Virginia Woolf herself. With this added deeper meaning, the story now becomes Woolf’s attempt to examine her own character through the vehicle of modern narrative techniques.
However, to understand the true beauty of Woolf’s execution of this, we must survey her tactics of modern styles and themes more in depth.
The modern theme of the split self appears to be the strongest theme in the story. Here the reader views one figure with various levels of character, a theme accentuated through the metaphor of the looking glass. The first picture the reader receives in the story is the contrast between the interior of the house and its exterior as seen through the looking glass. The interior is a world of movement portrayed as a dynamic environment constantly in a state of fluctuation from one state to another.
The play of light and shadow, as well as the images of animals, give the picture a sense of hidden depths, consistent with modern ideas about the fluidity of character. According to mood or circumstance, a person’s character changes and cannot be captured in one still image. When looking at an object through a looking glass, one cannot see within the object, due to it being flat and two dimensional; one can only see the reflection of its surface. The true depth of the object is not reflected in this mere image seen through the looking glass.
Applying this metaphor to the split self, the interior image of the house reflects the deep interior of the self, constantly shifting, changing, and adapting, hidden away from the world behind doors. The external image of the house through the looking glass reflection symbolizes that part of the self as seen by the world, a mask hiding in one fixed expression all the roiling turbulence beneath. The internal and external images of the self are by no means corresponding.
In fact, as seen in this story, they are often wildly different. The contrasting images of something viewed through the looking glass and something not provides the story with a unique style. Woolf represents herself through that of another character to provide a deeper meaning to the message of the story. By putting herself in the form of a woman viewed through a looking glass, Woolf further enhances the way style can be implemented to provide deeper meaning to a piece of literature.
Cite this The Lady in the Looking Glass: a Reflection
The Lady in the Looking Glass: a Reflection. (2019, May 02). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-lady-in-the-looking-glass-a-reflection-852/