An Analysis Of Borges's 'The Mirror Of Ink'

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Borges’ “The Mirror of Ink” embodies the essence of a quintessential moral anecdote. Brief, deliberate and insightful, “The Mirror of Ink” certainly asserts to its readership a particular set of lessons and imperatives but, as the title implies, there is a complex and nuanced ambiguity to the content of Borges’ short story. The title of this piece is something of an oxymoron. A mirror is by nature a pure reflective surface. Ink, conversely, is muddled and opaque. A mirror of ink seems inherently problematic. One can’t see themselves in ink, and unlike a mirror, ink absorbs light and image rather than rebounding and reflecting it. However, ink serves as a metaphorical mirror both to the soul and the world. Ink, when used to create stories and poems, speeches and letters, and other forms of the written word, is perhaps the most profound and reflective of all mirrors (literal or otherwise). Borges tells us that his story is meant to act as a mirror—it serves to both show us …show more content…
On the surface, this is exactly what the story is about: our narrator and his death, in Venice. But the vague nature of the title and its layered meaning our revealed upon further inspection. Death in Venice is deliberate ambiguous. We don’t know if this is one death or many, the cause of the death(s), or any other identifying details. As the story unfolds, we realize that “death,” though used literally in the story, is also a word laden with many meanings. Intellectual death, the death of youth, the death of love, (both of literal lovers and the ability to access love) and the death of order. In fact death, in some ways, actually represents life. The death of monotony is reflective of renewed vitality, the death of routine is a chance for new adventure, and the literal death of the narrator represents an ascension to something greater and, in some ways, the escape from the suffocation of the mortal

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