The second stanza is significant because it, as Gill explains, "exposes...the woman's need of the mirror [and] the mirror's need of the woman." When the mirror has nothing but the wall to stare at, the world is truthful, objective, factual, and "exact," but when the woman comes into view, the world becomes messy, unsettling, complicated, emotional, and vivid. Thus, the mirror is "no longer a boundary but a limninal and penetrable space." It reflects more than an image - it reflects its own desires and understanding about the world.
The hyperbole leads us to see Donne’s true point. This poem is not a misogynistic, or even a sincere, statement about the alleged infidelity of women. On the surface the poem could read as a way for a scorned lover to cope with a woman who was false to him, and the misogyny, read with a contemporary lens, might even seem like a convention in seventeenth-century poetry. However, a closer read of the poem suggest a gender-neutral criticism of humanity. An exploration of human relationships, of people who pledge themselves to be honest and good but who fall short, maybe multiple times in the one day. The poem could be said to reveal a universal truth of sort, people are false the world over.
The red part of the poem is almost painful to read. Plath's imagery and diction in these stanzas makes the reader feel almost exactly what she is going through. She says the tulips were too red, and we agree. She begins to describe the tulips as animals, and in a twisted metaphorical way she describes as the tulips breathe under gift wrap, (the sound imagery here, although unwritten, is very disturbing, as the crinkling of the paper as they breathe seems ominous, as the breathing noises in modern films do), how they turn towards her, (also quite ominous), how the tulips speak to her, ever-taunting, and eat her oxygen. She claims they should be shut away in a cage like wild, dangerous animals. Tulips? Shut away? The irony at first glance is intense, but fades away as one realizes the bitterness of the speaker towards these flowers is for a good reason. Her prior white emptiness has been ruined by these flowers; the redness of them (blood imagery) have brought her snapping back into memories of her miscarriage. She has failed her duty and is once again reminded of it. Curiously, she mentions how the flowers are "red lead sinkers round my neck". This directional imagery, in this case downwards, shows negativity and her real depression. In this way, the severe red of the tulips, interestingly enough given to her apparently by her own husband, has reminded her of her former self, and the social pressures that are her life.