Tone in “Mirror” by Sylvia Plath
In “Mirror” by Sylvia Plath, the speaker is represented as a mirror that reflects the life and actions of another human being. The speaker develops a casually detached tone right from the beginning of the poem, but also portrays an accepting mood by the end of the work. These tones and moods are expressed through the use of diction, punctuation, metaphors, and imagery. The tone of this poem fluctuates and makes it difficult for the reader to grasp the emotions of the speaker due to the fact that it is a very short piece.
The first stanza of “Mirror” starts off extremely straightforward and detached from any emotion. The speaker says, ”I am silver and exact.”(1) “I have no preconceptions”(1). These first
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The power of punctuation is most plainly seen throughout the first stanza. The sentences come off short and are stopped in their tracks with periods. Reading this poem aloud while following its punctuation is sharp and down to business. The lines are short to emphasize the speaker’s mood and depict what emotion she has toward her statements. The lines that do not have deliberately short sentences carry lines that are dropped off such as line 2, “Whatever I see I swallow immediately…just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike”. This lack of punctuation keeps the poem moving swiftly representing the speaker’s want for quickness to avoid attachment or emotion. The commas throughout the poem also contribute to the detachment tone by making the lines blunt. The use of commas in strategically put places causes the poem to briefly pause and then continue on to the speaker’s idea. In line 13 the speaker says, “I see her back, and reflect it faithfully”. This comma gives the reader a chance to absorb what actions are taking place as well as absorb the blunt diction used. The poem combines diction and punctuation in order to keep the speakers emotions unattached from emotion and give distinct meaning to the piece.
The second stanza in “Mirror” is created and supported mainly by the use of metaphors and imagery. The second stanza is where the accepting tone shows through the detachment tone more dominantly. In the second stanza the speaker is