NCERT Solutions for Class 10 English Literature Chapter 8 Poem Mirror – detailed line by line explanation of the poem along with meanings of difficult words and literary devices used in the poem.
In pairs discuss the following questions :
(a) When do you generally use a mirror ?
(b) Is a mirror essential for us ?
(c) Given below is a list of possible reasons why a person uses a mirror. Tick (✓) the ones you agree with :
(a) I use a mirror when I have to go outside or to school or when I comb my hair. In fact, looking into a mirror has become a kind of habit when I go out. I do so as I feel that I should look proper, formal and presentable.
(b) It is not possible to do without a mirror. It is because one should look neat and tidy, and of course, presentable. To be so means one is civil and civilized.
(c) (i) ✓ (ii) × (iii) ✓ (iv) × (v) ✓ (vi) × (vii) ×
The teacher will now play a recording of the poem, hasten carefully and answer the questions that follow :
On the basis of your understanding of the poem, answer the following questions by ticking the correct choice.
(a) When the mirror is being described as being ‘unmisted by love or dislike’ we understand that the mirror is
(b) The other word for ‘contemplation’ is……..
(c) When the mirror says ‘it has no preconceptions’ it means that :
(d) The mirror has been called ‘a four-cornered god’ because :
(e) The ‘speckles’ refer to :
(f) The phrase ‘agitation of the hand’ suggests that the person is :
(g) By saying ‘Now I am a lake’ the narrator wants to show that
(a) → (ii) not prejudiced
(b) → (ii) meditation
(c) → (i) it reflects back an image objectively
(d) → (ii) like God it watches you unbiased and fair from all four angles
(e) → (iv) pink spots in general
(f) → (ii) very upset
(g) → (i) the poem is not only about external beauty but also the inside of a person
Answer the following questions briefly
(a) What is the poetic device used when the mirror says ‘I swallow’ ?
(b) How does the mirror usually pass its time ? (V. Imp.)
How, according to the poet, does the mirror pass its time ? (CBSE 2015)
(c) What disturbs the mirror’s contemplation of the opposite wall ?
(d) 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 ? (V. Imp.)
(e) What is the woman searching for in the depths of the lake ? (CBSE 2014)
(f) How does the narrator convey the fact that the woman looking at her reflection in the lake is deeply distressed ? (CBSE 2015)
(g) What makes the woman start crying ? (V. Imp.) (CBSE 2015)
Why does the woman start crying ? (CBSE 2014)
(h) What do you think the ‘terrible fish’ in the last line symbolizes ? What is the poetic device used here ? (V. Imp.)
What does the phrase “terrible fish” symbolize in the poem “Mirror” ? (CBSE 2014)
(a) The poetic device used in it is ‘personification.’ The mirror is shown as a human being which it is not. ‘Swallow’ shows the use of ‘metaphor’ in it.
(b) It usually passes its time ‘meditating’, or ‘contemplating’.
(c) What disturbs the mirror is the opposite wall that seems freckled and is like a painted one.
(d) The mirror appears to be a lake in the second stanza because like the lake it reflects back the images objectively and hides things. The dispassionate and objective reflecting capacity of the mirror is referred in it.
(e) The woman is searching for the beauty of her face in the depths of the lake. Once she was beautiful. But now she has grown old and is not what she was earlier. Now she doesn’t want to see her old and wrinkled face. So she searches for her old face of her youthful days.
(f) The narrator conveys the fact that the woman looks at her reflection in the lake. She is deeply distressed which is seen in her agitating hands. Secondly, she weeps and behaves like ‘a terrible fish’ over the loss of her beauty.
(g) The wrinkled old face without beauty makes the woman start crying. She wanted to see her face always youthful. But now it is not so as she has grown old.
(h) The ‘terrible fish’ symbolizes the woman agitating at the loss of her youthful beauty. She is now old and behaves like ‘a terrible fish’ at the loss of her youth. The poetic device used here is ‘simile’.
Read the poem silently and answer the following questions :
(a) List out the adjectives that have been used to describe the mirror. Add a few more adjectives to the list.
(b) In the second stanza why has the narrator replaced the mirror with a lake ? What is he/she trying to focus on ?
(a) The adjectives are : silver and exact, cruel, truthful, four-cornered, important. Adjectives from our side: dispassionate, unshaken, appropriate, objective, impersonal, unmoved.
(b) In the second stanza the narrator has replaced the mirror with a lake. Like the mirror the lake reflects the things objectively. It also shows the objects objectified or reflected back like the mirror does.
Now the narrator is trying to give a different meaning to the woman’s looking in the mirror searching for the depths of her face. The lake does so when one looks into it. When the woman looks at her reflection a little closer she agitates. It is because now she sees her wrinkled face and not the youthful beauty that she once had. So she agitates at the loss of her youthful face. She is trying to focus on the loss of her beauty.
Find the various instances of personification used in this poem.
Various instances of personification :
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.
(a) What is the woman bending over ?
(b) Why have the candles and the moon been called ‘liars’ ?
(c) Why does she turn to them in spite of calling them ‘liars’ ?
(a) → (i) the mirror
(b) → (ii) they hide the blemishes and make people look beautiful in their soft glow
(c) → (iii) she wants to be told that she is still beautiful
Imagine you are the mirror. Write a speech that you would like to deliver to the humans who come to see their reflection in you. You could begin like this ……
Good Morning dear humans
I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to express my feelings and share my thoughts with you. As you know, all my life is spent in faithfully reflecting all that comes before my eyes …..
… I reflect exactly what comes before me. I do not act false. I am always truthful. I do not help any human being in romanticising about him or her. I have grown old seeing many human beings growing old. Some speckles have come out on my exterior. These are like the wrinkles grown over the bodies of young men and women. Many women have come before me. They have behaved very strangely. They have tried to see in their faces what they had had once. Not finding them beautiful they have sadly shed tears many times over this loss. I have been in deep sympathy with them. However, I have always wanted them to be truthful like me. Times are powerful. Human beings at physical levels undergo changes with the passage of time in their bodies. They must be aware of this change and compromise with these physical changes. When they don’t compromise, I feel pity for them. Then truth must be accepted in every way. Going away from it is always painful.
Here is another poem on mirror. The narrator calls the mirror a ‘fibber’. How is this poem different from the poem by Sylvia Plath ? Have a class discussion on the comparison in terms of the theme, the tone and the language used.
For classroom activity.
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