Graham Greene’s short story ‘The Destructors’ and Sylvia Plath’s poem ‘The Mirror’ are interesting pieces of literature. Graham Green points out fundamental truths about life through the use of a group of boys, referred to as the Wormsley Gang who share similar views about their lives. Sylvia Plath, on the other hand, brings out the fact that the involvement between the mirror and the woman results to a messy, complicated, and vivid world. Without this involvement, the mirror’s world remains truthful and factual since it only stares at the wall. Graham Greene utilizes his skills to reflect on the power of association. The boys, regardless of their age gang up to bring down the Old Misery’s house, an affair that appears impossible in the common man’s eye. In both ‘The Destructors’ and ‘Mirror’ one recognizes that whether the spoils of war, poverty, or the simple fact of growing closer to death, all people are subject to life and its consequences, no matter how unfair or destructive.
‘The Destructors’ has its setting in England, some few years after the World War II. Everything appears to be destroyed due to the bombing out. The boys use a parking lot as their meeting area; however, there surrounding is characterized by utter destruction. Only the One Misery’s house remains standing. In Greene’s story, it is evident that every individual regardless of their status is subject to the consequences of life. His post-war tale brings to notice the emptiness that surrounds and controls the gang. As they meet in the parking lot, the gang can only plan for further destruction since none of the young men can think positively. They are pessimists since the world around them has been destroyed. A situation of hopelessness and detachment engulfs them having a negative effect on their emotional state. For instance, the impact of war seems to affect Trevor in a huge way. At the beginning, he finds it quite difficult to interact freely as he joins the gang. As Green describes him, “…and there were possibilities of his brooding silence and all recognized. He never wasted a word even to tell his name until that was required of him by the rules ”(1).
Apparently, the effect of war is seen to bring a psychological reality that affects the boys regardless of their innocent state and their young age. Their character is severely damaged and none of them looks at the future as bright. As T. burns the spoils of their destruction in the Old Misery’s house, money, he confesses to Blackie that he has no hate for the old man. However, his actions seem to contradict his stand. T. seems to be torn between two feelings. His state of indecisiveness reflects a massive disconnect that war has brought to him. He is not able to out rightly express his emotions since he has grown with so much brutality and fear that have brought him to a state of death to his human emotions. Such are the severe consequences of war in the lives of young innocent lives that seem to have nothing in relation to the war.
Sylvia Plath’s poem is equally a reflection of how all people, especially women, are subject to the consequences of life regardless of its level of destruction or unfairness. Firstly, women appear to be destructed by their outward appearance hence their need for the mirror. In this poem, the mirror is personified hence has the heart to reflect the emotional connection between the woman and the mirror. It is aware of the faces that come to face it and declares that it is important to the woman. The mirror says, “I am important to her,” hence gives the woman the reason for trusting it (Plath 154). However, the woman seems to be unhappy about her appearance on the mirror. She is highly concerned about her aging. She appears to be frustrated and disappointed with her self-awareness by the help of the mirror. In her view, she is no longer beautiful and thriving with the advancement of her age. She compares herself to a ‘terrible fish’ (154).
The woman struggles much with aging. As she returns to the mirror to look at herself, which is symbolized as a lake, she re-examines her face. She is desperate for the truth that can only be given to her by the mirror. She finds it difficult to flow to the rhythm of life, which is characterized by aging. As she faces the reality, the woman “…rewards me with tears and agitation of hands” (Plath 154). She appears to be devastated about the fact that she is advancing in age with a deterioration of her body. With the loss of her beauty and innocence, the woman goes into a state of emotional instability. She cries her heart out with the drowning of the young girl in her. She finds it difficult to accept the replacement with an old woman.
‘The Destructor’ and ‘Mirror’ present similar ideas. They depict the inevitable struggles individuals go through as a result of unplanned occurrences. For instance, the young boys go through pessimism and emotional instability because of the difficult life they go through during the World War II. It appears that they develop a different lifestyle which is filled with fear, pain, devastation, and destruction; however, they have no control of the situation at hand. The innocence of these young boys is destroyed pushing them to find refuge in further destruction of the Old Misery’s house. On the other hand, Mirror’ brings to notice the struggles women go through during the aging process. Evidently, women concentrate more on their outward appearance. They often want to appear their best at all times regardless of the situations that surround them. Unfortunately, with age catching up, women fall into depression and emotional instability. In the poem, the woman is seen crying and having an agitation. Her image of being young is slowly being replaced by an image of an old woman. Sadly, she has no control of this yet finds it difficult to accept the situation.
The similarity on these texts has a positive impact on the reader of both texts. Firstly, the reader is hit by the fact that life is a journey with many phases. A reader realizes that it is quite difficult to control some of the situations at hand. For instance, the boys in the short story had no control over the World War II situation surrounding them. All of them were forced to face the consequences of this war and live with them. In the poem, the woman has no option but to accept the fact that aging is a compulsory state in the human world. Despite her trying to take control by making her body appear good, she is slapped by the hard fact that she must age with time. Reading through the short story and the poem also helps the reader to note the need for communion and teamwork. In Greene’s short story, it is evident that the success of bringing down the Old Misery’s house can only be attributed to teamwork and communion (Greene 4). The gang works as a team, headed by T. and Blackie to bring down the house.
The use of literary devices in a piece of work makes it more interesting. Both authors make use of metaphor. In the short story, Greene describes T. as one who “never wasted a word” (Greene 1). Apparently, it is impossible to waste words. Words can never run out since they have infinite quantity. They can only be compared to water. In his words, the author means that Trevor uses very few words as if he had the possibility of wasting them. Sylvia, on the other hand, uses metaphor in form of personification. The mirror is personified in its description as “I am silver and exact”. She goes on to describe it further as “Now I am a lake” (Plath 154). The mirror appears to have a life like a human. It is also reflected to have a heart that experiences emotions.
Greene and Plath make use of hyperbole in their pieces of literature. Greene exaggerates his description for Mike. He brings to the reader’s realization that Mike was too talkative to the extent that he was warned of a frog entering his mouth. He says “If you don’t shut your mouth,” somebody once said to him, you’ll get a frog down it” (Greene 1). He also uses a simile, which is an indirect comparison of things by the use of ‘like’. For instance, he compares Thomas’ house to a jagged tooth (1).
Plath, Sylvia. Collected Poems. London: Faber & Faber, 2015. Print.
Greene, Graham. The Destructors. Creative Company, 1992. Print.