Sophie’s World

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The Brass Mirror Symbol Icon

In the novel-within-the-novel, Sophie Amundsen discovers a strange brass mirror that allows her to see her “real-life” counterpart, Hilde Møller Knag. It’s interesting that in Sophie’s World the mirror, a traditional symbol of self-contemplation, is depicted as a tool for interpersonal communication—a magical device that allows Sophie to see another part of the world. The message would seem to be that introspection and careful thinking, the qualities that Sophie’s philosophical education encourages, don’t just lead to a better understanding of oneself, but also to a better understanding of the world and other people.

The Brass Mirror Quotes in Sophie’s World

The Sophie’s World quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Brass Mirror. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Philosophy, Wisdom, and Wonder Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Farrar, Strauss and Giroux edition of Sophie’s World published in 2007.
Chapter 1 Quotes

“Who are you?” Sophie asked.
She received no response to this either, but felt a momentary confusion as to whether it was she or her reflection who had asked the question.
Sophie pressed her index finger to the nose in the mirror and said, “You are me.”
As she got no answer to this, she turned the sentence around and said, “I am you.”

Related Characters: Sophie Amundsen (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Brass Mirror
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

In this almost "primal" scene, Sophie stares at herself in the mirror, and finds—of course—an image of herself staring back. Although the moment seems trivial, it's actually one of the most important in the novel. Sophie is examining herself and expressing her self-consciousness—in short, beginning to think like a philosopher. Moreover, the scene foreshadows the self-referentiality of the novel Sophie's World. The novel will make reference to its own artificiality—to the fact that it is just a novel—in much the same way that Sophie acknowledges her own reflection staring back at her. The starting point for any philosophical investigation, it would seem, is the kind of self-analysis that Sophie is practicing here.

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The Brass Mirror Symbol Timeline in Sophie’s World

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Brass Mirror appears in Sophie’s World. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 10: The Major’s Cabin
Philosophy, Wisdom, and Wonder Theme Icon
The Nature of Reality Theme Icon
Free Will Theme Icon
...“Berkeley.” There’s also another painting of a white house, captioned, “Bjerkely.” Sophie notices a large brass mirror hanging on the wall. When Sophie stares into the mirror and winks with one eye,... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Postcards
The Nature of Reality Theme Icon
Joanna and Sophie try to understand what’s going on. Joanna notices the large brass mirror that hangs in the cabin. Joanna senses that the mirror is somehow special, and begins... (full context)
Philosophy, Wisdom, and Wonder Theme Icon
The Nature of Reality Theme Icon
Education, Mentorship, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Joanna and Sophie leave the cabin with the brass mirror and spend the rest of the day camping in the forest. When Sophie gets home,... (full context)
Chapter 16: The Renaissance
The Nature of Reality Theme Icon
Free Will Theme Icon
Back in her room, Sophie stares at the brass mirror and sees another girl’s face. The girl winks with both eyes, just as she did... (full context)
Chapter 23: Bjerkeley
Philosophy, Wisdom, and Wonder Theme Icon
The Nature of Reality Theme Icon
Free Will Theme Icon
Hilde stares into her brass mirror . She has long blonde hair and green eyes. The mirror reminds Hilde of her... (full context)
Philosophy, Wisdom, and Wonder Theme Icon
The Nature of Reality Theme Icon
Education, Mentorship, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Free Will Theme Icon
Women and Sexism Theme Icon
...real person. Hilde reaches the passage in her book in which Sophie stares in the brass mirror and sees a strange girl winking back at her—Hilde recognizes this strange girl as herself.... (full context)
Chapter 27: Hegel
Philosophy, Wisdom, and Wonder Theme Icon
The Nature of Reality Theme Icon
Education, Mentorship, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Free Will Theme Icon
...“mirror of the world spirit.” Sophie finds this interesting, since it reminds her of the brass mirror in her room. She wonders what the “significance” of this mirror could be. Alberto suggests... (full context)