The Girl in The Looking-Glass: A Reflection

The Girl in The Looking-Glass: A Reflection


  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. Describe the images reflected in the mirror.
  3. What kind of contrast is there between the objects inside the house and outside the house, as they are reflected in the mirror?
  4. 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
  5. What are the known facts about Isabella’s outer self?
  6. What material objects inside and outside the house does the narrator use to imagine Isabella’s life?
  7. What are Isabella’s letters supposed to conceal, according to the narrator? What would one know if one could only read them?
  8. At the end of the story, according to the narrator, is it possible to know objectively one’s inner reality?
  9. 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.
  10. What do you think is the role of the mirror in the story? How has the mirror been used as a metaphor in literature?
  11. 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 at the beginning of the story portraits Isabella because of the fact that from the outside of the House, and metaphorically speaking physically, lets us see how her action in her house are, her intimacy,  things that we aren’t supposed to see from the outside. Her real her.
    2. The unnamed narrator attempts to construct a portrait of the Isabella Tyson that consists of her outer self and her inner self.  There is a reflection of the objects inside and outside the house as they reflect in the mirror. Imageries reflected in the mirror are described as unorganized, always moving, as a mess. ¨Nothing stays the same for two seconds together¨ This is how the narrator describes the furniture in the inside of the house, messy, not steady. This messy house is a metaphor of this Isabela´s mind. On the other hand, the reflection of the mirror outside is described as The contrary from the inside. ¨But, outside, the looking-glass reflected the whole tables, the sunflowers, the garden path so accurately and so fixedly¨As a contrast, the outside was the reflection of Isabela´s appearance. She seemed to had a perfect life. ¨All changing here, all stillness there¨ The outsides reflection was the contrary from the insides reflection.




  1. 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. The narrator describes Isabella as a spinster apparently 55 years old, full of secrets,¨Long letters of intimacy and affection, violent letters of jealousy and reproach, terrible final words¨. This letters made us feel she has lots of history, a life full of passion and emotions. Also, the narrator things she has lots of things hidden from us lots of secrets ¨There must be a truth; there must be a wall¨ the narrator by this quote shows as that he/she thing that Isabella has people that know her although she hides everything, supposedly. Also, he/she thinks that Isabella travels and has an interesting, full of joy life.
  2. What we knew from Isabella, in connection to her outer-self is that:¨Any woman of flesh and blood of fifty-five or sixty should be really a wreath or a tendril¨She is around fifty-five years old. ¨As for facts, it was a fact that she was a spinster; that she was rich; that she has bought this house and collected with her own hands¨ in connection to her outer self we know that she lives alone, that she was rich (is what we think about the beginning) and that she started her life at this same house at her own. Another fact from her outer self is that:
    ¨She had gone presumably into the lower garden to pick flowers¨ she always worked with flowers.
  3. The narrator uses furniture, letters, walls and her flowers to imagine her life. ¨The rugs, the chairs, the cabinets, which now lived the nocturnal life before one’s eyes¨ the furniture is described as a wild animal, something to fear of, messy. The walls wide ¨There must be truth; there must be a wall¨. ¨Burst here and there into white and violet blossoms¨Flowers are part of Isabel’s life. ¨One realized at last that there were merely letters, the mad had brought the post¨ Isabella always received letters. This letters, in connection with what the narrator things she had lots of letters that were full of Isabella´s history.
  4. According to the narrator, Isabella’s letters would show as all her history. A full life full of secrets. They would let us know how she has. ¨And thus if one had the audacity to open a drawer and read her letters, one would find traces of many agitations, of appointments to meet, of up breathing for not having met¨. All what we needed to know was in her letters.
  5. Yes, at the end of the text we can really see Isabella’s inner self, it stops being a thing the narrator suppose, and it becomes a fact. ¨ She stood naked¨what it represents the fact that she was naked is that we can see her real her, without any obstacle. ¨Isabella was perfectly empty¨There weren’t any emotions, any feelings, she was thinking of nothing, anything inside her.
  6. In our opinion, Woolf shows at the end the real part of Isabella: ¨ At once the looking-glass began to pour over her a light that seemed to fix her¨. This quote portrays a message connected to the fact that she was full of superficial things. And the mirror didn’t show that things that people usually saw in Isabella, but, what she had inside. How she really was, who she really was, all that she was thinking. And how she really was, who she really was and what she was thinking was nothing. ¨She stood naked in that pitiless light¨, she was no one, nothing inside, everything outside.
  7. The role of the mirror in this story is a connection to this story has to do with seeing the inner self of someone through the mirror. It can show what someone has inside without any stereotypes neither thing covering nither related to the superficial things.  The symbol of mirrors in literature is connected with a reflection of the soul. It doesn’t lie. It is a mechanism of self-realization.
  8. All throughout the story we have a third person, omniscient narrator who is limited. We only know what the narrator sees and thinks, nothing else. The narrator doesn’t know the truth, he only knows thinks be what he sees and facts. In this way, we can analyze firstly the out self of the character. But at the end of the story, the narrator changes to an unlimited narrator. Where we can see who the character really is. We see her soul, her inner self. This way of narrating help us to compare the superficial and how we think someone is by seeing her from the outside and compare it with what we see in the end. Her soul.

We chose this image because we wanted to show how people saw Isabella, connected to her outer self. The garden we choose is full of flowers and we connect that with the fact she is described as someone who was always in his garden looking after her flowers. And on the other hand, the inside of the house doesn’t look organized and it seemed a thing had been moved. The house was described, as a metaphor, as if nothing stayed the same for too long.

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