Famous Mirrors in Literature


Most people love to look in the mirror even at least once a day. We want to see ourselves, our clothing, our stature, etc. Before leaving the door for work or play, we want to make sure that we look presentable and clean. A mirror, whether big or small, is an important item to have at home or in your purse for practical purposes. The presence of a mirror in numerous pieces of literature tells us that aside from its practicality, it is used for its supposed magical and mysterious powers.

Here is a list of some of these great works wherein a mirror is involved:

The Metamorphoses, by Ovid. Roman poet Ovid wrote this Latin narrative poem telling the history of the world from its creation to the deification of Julius Caesar. It has 15 books and Book III narrates the story of Narcissus. Narcissus is an exceptionally handsome youth who fell in love with his own reflection in the Styx River. He died looking at his reflection and a small flower grew in the spot where he died.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, by the Brothers Grimm. This is a classic fairy tale known by children. The Wicked Queen asks a magical mirror these famous lines: “Mirror, mirror on the wall/ Who’s the fairest of them all?” The mirror will answer, “You are,” until one day the mirror tells her that her step-daughter Snow White surpasses all of the Queen’s beauty.

Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carrol. A sequel to “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” the setting of this children’s fiction is a mirror image of Wonderland. Many mirror themes are used in this work of literature such as inversion of Alice’s room, opposites, time running backwards, and so on.

Richard II, by William Shakespeare. This 1595 play tells the tale of a weak, medieval king who, after a long speech, got a mirror and smashed it to the ground uttering the words, “For there it is, crack’d in a hundred shivers.” Superstitious people fear that breaking a mirror brings bad luck but Shakespeare was not concerned about it. King Richard II already had his bad luck.

Mirror, by Sylvia Plath. This poem describes the mirror’s existence and its owner. The mirror is unjudgmental, reflecting only what is in front of it.

Dracula, by Bram Stroker. It is an 1897 horror novel which tells the story of the vampire called Count Dracula. Vampires have no reflection on mirrors since they have no souls and mirrors reflect the souls of the people in front of it. A mirror shows a character in the story that he is in trouble when he could see a man close to him but the mirror shows nothing.

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