The Symbolism Of Mirrors In Patrice's Mad Shadows

1446 Words6 Pages
Mirrors have been used as a powerful symbol throughout literature. They represent a window into one's soul, exploring themes of narcissism, vanity, illusions, and deceit. In Mad Shadows, mirrors are a dominant symbol throughout. One character in particular, Patrice, is the embodiment of this symbol. His lifestyle is a direct repercussion of this metaphor. The relationships he holds with other people and his actions are brought out through the symbol with which he is defined. It is through interacting with this mirror that characters in the book meet their demise, directly as well as indirectly.
Patrice lives a life of delusion, lethargy, and self-preservation. Being intellectually dead, his youthful body and beautiful features are all that
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Louise brings forth her own annihilation, as her health takes a downward turn at the same time Patrice began to lose his wholesome beauty. Nearing the third quarter of the book, she reflects on the time when “her skin had been pure and white. Now her mirror revealed a mauve face, streaked with black.” (120). After a long spell lasting decades under which Louise has fed her own ego and desire for beauty through Patrice’s youthful body, the fortress of self-preservation she has built around herself crumbles with the virginal splendor of the Beautiful Beast. What she had failed to realized is that by constantly utilizing her son’s model body as an affirmation of her own beauty would create a bond between them, one summed up perfectly by the cliché “for better or for worse”. As the quote explicitly states, the condition of one reflects the condition of the other. As Patrice’s condition and life of blissful luxury collapses due to various events such as his starvation at the hands of Isabelle-Marie, and his ostracism at the hands of Lanz. In this context, her mirror is Patrice itself, and her downward spiral parallels Patrice’s. However, the difference between Patrice and Louise resembles the difference between idyllic ignorance and deliberate malevolence. Nearing the end of the book, as her house is burning all around her, Louise prays “’God in heaven…have mercy!’ But her mirror did not answer.” (121). This quote shows…show more content…
In Mad Shadows, they are used in all the wrong ways. Instead of being utilized as a tool for self-discovery, the characters in Blais’ upsetting novel abuse them, using them as a tool for damage and duplicity. At the end of the book, the only one not touched by the curse of mirrors is Anne. Anne represents a clean slate in this family with history of violence and murder. Through the proper nurturing, she can escape the mirrors which drove her ancestors into problems with identity, and narcissism, and which lead them to gamble each other’s

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