Death and the Maiden

by

Ariel Dorfman

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The Mirror Symbol Analysis

The Mirror Symbol Icon

Though the play for the most part sticks to strict realist principles, with believable dialogue and a unity of time and place, Dorfmann completely disrupts this stability at the play’s conclusion. His stage directions give instructions for a giant mirror to be lowered down from the theater ceiling in order to reflect the audience members’ own images back at them. This expressionistic device thus asks them to question how they relate to what they have just seen, provoking them to consider how they would react in the characters’ situations. More widely, the mirror gestures towards an idea of collective responsibility—that everyone in society has a part to play in how society takes shape.

The Mirror Quotes in Death and the Maiden

The Death and the Maiden quotes below all refer to the symbol of The 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:
Memory, Trauma, and the Senses Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Death and the Maiden published in 1991.
Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

Gerardo and Paulina sit in their seats. Roberto goes to another seat, always looking at Paulina. Applause is heard when the imaginary musicians come on. The instruments are tested and tuned. Then Death and the Maiden begins. Gerardo looks at Paulina, who looks forward. He takes her hand and then also begins to look forward. After a few instants, she turns slowly and looks at Roberto. Their eyes interlock for a moment. Then she turns her head and faces tire stage and the mirror. The lights go down while the music plays and plays and plays.

Related Symbols: The Mirror
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Mirror Symbol Timeline in Death and the Maiden

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Mirror appears in Death and the Maiden. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 3, Scene 1
Authority, Society, and the Public Theme Icon
...freeze as music by Mozart drifts in. Here, the stage directions give instructions for a giant mirror to descend from the ceiling of the theatre, forcing the “members of the audience to... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Memory, Trauma, and the Senses Theme Icon
Authority, Society, and the Public Theme Icon
Civilization and Violence Theme Icon
...to look at Roberto. Soon after, she swiftly turns to face the stage and the mirror. The lights go down. (full context)