In The Gaze, mirrors are used significantly within this novel. Mirrors are a recognizable symbol in this world that provides a particular person with a glimpse of how others may view them. Another famous example of this motif in popular culture is in Snow White. Snow White’s wicked stepmother, the queen, is constantly checking herself out in the mirror, even asking it, ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?’ The trouble begins when Snow White turns seven and the mirror informs the queen that she is no longer the prettiest because Snow White has taken over that title. This causes jealousy and anger because in the queen’s eyes, Snow White is a threat to her title as “the fairest”. A similar example exists in this book with the moon. The dark side of the moon’s biggest fears was to see someone more beautiful than her and to be alone. When she looked in the well and realized that her obsession over being beautiful didn’t make her happy, she avoided wells for the rest of her time. The very people she wanted to be remembered by quickly tired her, and this is why she didn’t establish many friendships. She was so obsessed with no one being more beautiful than her that the book insists “if one day she should meet someone like this, there is nothing she wouldn’t do to get rid of her.” This is extremely interesting because she is worrying about something that in essence has no importance to her happiness and well-being. Similarly, people often place a huge importance on how they are perceived by others when it means little to nothing.
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Also, Keramet Efendi included another mirror in his story. During his show, a snake charmer presents a snake with reflective eyes towards the audience. However, the snake’s eyes show a parallel universe where “virgins were widows, masters were slaves” (pg 70). The audience reaction was one of chaos; women began screaming and became nauseous. They began throwing all their jewelry onto the stage in order to purify themselves and get away from hell. This shows that the biggest fear of some people is seeing themselves as someone who they don’t recognize. When looking into the mirror, the women saw a parallel world that portrayed the world in reverse. When looking at the mirror, the women saw a glimpse of how others could possibly view them, and they wanted to purify themselves immediately because of their fear that they weren’t beautiful or perfect. This hints that people care more about how they are perceived by others than by their actual reality. I believe that Efendi was trying to give people a glimpse of his point of view. Mirrors are essential pointless to him because no matter how he’s treated or how people see him, his expression didn’t change. Because of this, he broke the mirror on his wedding night to signify the muteness in his eyes.
In this story, there were many metaphorical mirrors in which the main character was aware of. When she was on the minibus, she had automatically built her own mirror even without the presence of one. A mirror doesn’t necessary have to be in a bathroom or a phone. A mirror is simply a glimpse of how others may see them. The main character was completely aware of how people would view her. She was conscious of her smell, her immense size, and her sweat. In the text, she says “I try to ascertain whether or not people around me can smell my sweat… next to the window, I am less aware of the other passengers, and can spend the trip watching people outside”(pg 22). These presumptions that the main character had about herself was a mirror that she created from herself. The only way that she could avoid these presumptions was when she was alone, covering the mirrors.
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