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by Sylvia Plath

Color, Light, and Darkness

Symbol Analysis

In talking about mirrors, the sense of sight is pretty important. So, of course, colors and darkness figure into this poem. From silver to pink to moonlight, this poem uses colors and light to give the reader images as they read about a mirror.

  • Line 1: The color in this line gives us the major clue that – ah ha! – the speaker is not a person, but a personified mirror. Since this is the first line, we think of the color silver throughout the poem whenever we think of the mirror.
  • Lines 7-8: So the mirror is silver, but now we get the image of the pink, speckled wall, which the mirror reflects most of the time. This pink, speckled image is less exotic and exciting than the mirror's silvery surface. But then in line 8, we find out that this speckled pink wall is like part of the mirror's heart – and hearts often make us think of the color red.
  • Line 9: In this line, we get our first glimpse of darkness, which separates the mirror from the pink wall it believes is part of its heart. The mirror also mentions that faces play a part in this separation. What does this mirror feel about human faces if it sees them on the same plane as darkness?
  • Line 13: We hear a lot about darkness in this poem, but it is only appropriate, in a poem about reflections, that we'd see what is lighting up the reflection. However, we only hear that, when it comes to reflections, candles and the moon are liars, that the light they provide is false. The mirror's declaration personifies the candles and the moons, giving them human qualities, like the ability to lie.
  • Line 16: Again, in this line, we see faces and darkness. But instead of the faces separating the mirror from the pink wall, faces replace the darkness. We'd expect the sky, in the morning, to replace the darkness, but instead, the woman's face is the first thing reflected in the lake.

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