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The Stepmother had a Mirror to Which She Referred

Page history last edited by Tonya Howe 13 years, 1 month ago

In the literal sense people, namely women, use mirrors to view one’s reflection. In this way, mirrors tell the truth based on reality. Figuratively, mirrors can reflect the preferred image of the viewer. The viewer can easily distort their image, so that the mirror reflects a false likeness. “The stepmother had a mirror to which she referred” (24) that pronounced the one woman whose beauty exceeded all others. Sexton’s casual use of the word “referred” gives the reader the impression that this is an ordinary mirror, which the queen occasionally uses. In contrast, the next line, “something like the weather forecast” (25) claims that the queen looks into this mirror every day. The word “refer” denotes to convey one’s thoughts and feelings or to restore something (Oxford English Dictionary). The stepmother may truly believe that her beauty outshines all others, so she uses the mirror to confirm that fact. When Snow White’s beauty surpasses her own, she loses the satisfaction and confidence she derived from her beauty. After Snow White’s death, she looks into the mirror to restore her conviction in her beauty. (A. Harrison)

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Comments (1)

Tonya Howe said

at 1:19 am on Oct 27, 2008

Good work, Athenna--I like the specificity with which you discuss the mirror. I think you might focus a bit more on the image of her "referr[ing]" to the mirror, though--what does it mean to refer to something? Refer to something for what? Looking into that word may then cause you to tweak the last line of your explication.

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