The Lady in the Looking Glass: A Reflection

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Virginia Woolf

Answer the following questions on your blog. 

  1. Notice how the mirror in the first paragraph is set up as the frame for a kind of a portrait.
  2. The unnamed narrator attempts to construct a portrait of the Isabella Tyson that consists of her outer self and her inner self. The portrait is reflected in the objects inside and outside the house as they reflect in the mirror.
  3. Describe the images reflected in the mirror.
  4. What kind of contrast is there between the objects inside the house and outside the house, as they are reflected in the mirror?
  5. Describe how the narrator attempts to compose the portrait through the mood inside the room, through her own imagination, and through the presentation of Isabella in the mirror
  6. What are the known facts about Isabella’s outer self?
  7. What material objects inside and outside the house does the narrator use to imagine Isabella’s life?
  8. What are Isabella’s letters supposed to conceal, according to the narrator? What would one know if one could only read them?
  9. At the end of the story, according to the narrator, is it possible to know objective one’s inner reality?
  10. In this story Woolf questions whether the inner self of an individual is finally knowable. What do you think is her conclusion? Provide support for your statement.
  11. What do you think is the role of the mirror in the story? How has the mirror been used as a metaphor in literature?
  12. Describe the characteristics of this story that resemble stream-of-consciousness narrative technique.

Find a picture of a room inside and a garden to illustrate the house in the story

Read the following text. How is this related to the story

  1.  The mirror in the first paragraph reflects the end of the superficiality Isabella Tyson has always carried. The mirror now framed her real side, her inner and hidden side, Isabella´s true identity is revealed to the readers.
  2.  The images reflected in the mirror are images which portrays Isabella´s being a sociable, serene woman on the inside but on the outside images conveys disorder, loneliness and death (inside).
  3.  The objects inside of the house are described as fully disorganized, there is chaos and turmoil surronding the house while the objects outside of the house are portrayed as calm, still objects (not moving). Two reflections can be distinguished.
  4.  The narrator attemps to potrait the mood inside the house as a chaotic, wild atmosphere.  Isabella is a  woman who lives under a lie, she seems to be very wealthy and a succesful woman who had many affairs.
  5.  The known facts about Isabella’s are that neither narrator knows with precision who Isabella really is. There are many supposions among Isabella´s. We only know she picked flowers and had a great sum of money.
  6.  The material objects that the narrator uses are the expensive clothe she wear and the letters she usually received, we can think of Isabella living under materliasm, creates a superficial character.
  7.  According to the narrator, the letters represents Isabella´s knowing people. The  letters conveyed the idea of whom is she. A person whose feelings and experiences are written in the letters
  8. Yes, at the end of the story readers finally understood that Isabella is empty and dead inside, Isabella discovered who she really is thanks to the mirror which reflected truth.  A person who has no friends, a person who is in debt since the letters that seemed to be from people who cared about her, in fact, were lots of bills she had to pay yes or yes.
  9. It is possible to know since we, readers, discover Isabella true side. She is no one, Everthing was a farse. Nothing was to be said about her. Lies go away and truth, reality came.
  10. The role of the mirrors in the story is very significant since mirrors show who you really are when we look at them. In connection with the story, we discover Isabella´s true identity. The mirror has been used as a methapor of showing an identity, finding your true side, self realization.
  11. Stream of consciousness is a narrative technique method whereas describing possible thoughts and feeling when passing through your mind. Virginia Woolf decided to depict Isabella as a person that treates those powerful thoughts. Both Isabella and Virginia seemed to deal with these feelings of being empty.

Find a picture of a room inside and a garden to illustrate the house in the story:

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