Sunday, February 3, 2013


Out flew the web and floated wide
The mirror crack'd from side to side; 
"The curse is come upon me," cried 
The Lady of Shalott.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Mirror mirror – trouble-making yes-man of the wicked witch. Shadowy tunnel to wonderland. Downfall of medusa. Taunter of Belle with images of loved ones she cannot see or comfort. Peeping tool of peeping Merlin.

So many traditions and tropes. So many reasons to look the other way. Mermaids own mirrors as symbols of their vanity, and their devious duplicity. But are there fairy tales in which mirrors are a form of torture? Treachery, yes. Isolation, misery, cold-hearted cruelty, entrapment - I suppose those are all their own form of torture.

Sometimes it’s looking in the mirror that is the problem. Sometimes, as with our poor Lady of Shallot, it is in looking out at the world too clearly.

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