Caliban’s Rage (Seeing and Not Seeing My Face in a Mirror)

Posted on

I’m fifty and I’ve still got a full head of hair. That’s a good thing, right?

Wrong. My locks, I tell you, have got me tied up in knots.

It’s those men and their amazing reflecting machines – mirrors, they call them.

Ostensibly aids in the trimming of hair, these dastardly devices serve a more sinister purpose: they cut characters like me down to size.

Which brings me to Shakespeare’s Tempest.

According to Oscar Wilde, Caliban is infuriated by seeing – and not seeing – his face in a glass. His rage, Oscar argues, accounts for the ‘nineteenth century dislike’ of realism and romanticism alike.

Call me Caliban.

What I see in a mirror is my face and yet it’s not; the reflection is real enough and yet it shatters my illusions.

It’s enough to drive a man mad – and to steer me clear of barbers’ scissors.

[Image from The Met]