Mirror mirror on the wall…. please don’t reflect me at all

Terry Pratchett in his obtuse novel Witches Abroad uses mirrors as a focal point of in a symbolic nature not commonly seen in stories. There is the classic use of mirrors in the tale as well, with the evil witch Lilith using it as a mean of obtaining her power and as a means of communication. First instance in the very beginning of the novel the dying witch Desiderata Hollow is approached by her evil fairy godmother counterpart, Lilith, to discuss her coming death and failure. It was earlier mentioned that Desiderata was always taught never to get between two mirrors, a practice that Lilith manipulates to achieve control of the city Guana. This taboo of mirrors is explicitly described in the very beginning as being part of a superstition that mirrors “steal a bit of a person’s soul and there’s only so much of a person to go around” (5). It is also discussed that those who spend their lives reflecting themselves in various images thus, “develop a thin quality” (5). The fundamental theme of this kind of superstition is vanity, and how when one is so engrossed with themselves they lose track of who they are. It as if one forgets to look inward, discovering who they are in a metaphysical way, rather than basing one sense of self on the outward reflection, seeing them on the superficial level. It is reminiscent of the mythology of Narcissus, who stared at his reflection through a pond and fell in love with it so deeply that it leads to his death. He was only concerned with his outward reflection, yet there’s another interpretation of the tale in which the lake he would gaze into was weeping and the goddesses of the forest asked the lake why he wept, the lake responded because within Narcissus’s reflection he saw his own beauty. Seeing one’s beauty inwardly through a reflection seems to be more what Pratchett would profess. Using mirrors and reflections as a means of exposing vanity is also heavily prevalent in the fairytale, most likely being parodied in this novel, Snow White. The evil witch, similar to Lilith, begs the mirror to tell her that she is the most beautiful reflection he had ever seen, yet he cannot and her vanity takes over giving power to the evil inside her. With the Snow White fairytale the superstition of losing one’s soul from gazing into mirrors tool long withstands, for the vanity that ensues causes her to give into evil which destroys a person’s soul. She even goes to length of trying to kill Snow White, an act that wounds a person’s soul beyond repair. Lilith therefore goes an extra mile in destroying her soul because not only does she gaze into her reflection constantly, but she utilizes mirrors to fuel her power of controlling people’s lives. She does this by not only reflecting herself in one mirror, but two, causing her reflection to go on till infinity. This creates an infinite tunnel of vanity, that is not easily broken or escaped from.

One response to “Mirror mirror on the wall…. please don’t reflect me at all

  1. Great post kredmile! You provided textual evidence and made an unique argument. You used great wording especially when explaining the theme. I like how you compared this to the mythological story of Nicarcissus. Just like Nicarcissus, Lilith was too into her refection and power that it ended up with her death/her being trapped in a mirror forever. I enjoyed reading this.

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