Summary and Explanation of The Snake and the Mirror (Character Sketch and Quick Revision Notes)

Character Sketches from The Snake and the Mirror

Doctor: The doctor was quite vain about his appearance and his qualification. He often admired his reflection in the mirror and thought of ways to look more handsome. He was a bachelor and wanted to look handsome. However, his ability to admit his follies helped him to realise that to be alive was more important than to look good. His arrogance turned into modesty after his encounter with the snake. In addition, he had admirable patience and presence of mind. When the snake landed on him, he did not jump or cry. Keeping his cool, he remembered God and actively thought about the medicine he would require in case the snake bit him. He also made the most of the opportunity when the snake was absorbed in its reflection in the mirror. Thus, the doctor is a candid person, a witty man, and an interesting character who relates his encounter with the snake in a lighter vein.

Summary of The Snake and the Mirror

It is a story about a doctor, who had only recently commenced his practice. He lived in a small rented room which was an outhouse. It had two windows and a tiled roof. The tiles were supported by gables which rested on the beam and there was no electricity. The room was infested with rats.

One hot summer night, he had his meals at the restaurant and returned home. He lighted the kerosene lamp, took off his coat and shirt and opened the two windows. He settled on the chair and took out a medical book to read. There was a large mirror on the table on which stood a lamp. Since it was too hot to sleep, and he had nothing better to do, he sat down in front of the mirror, admiring himself, admiring his looks and smile and planning what he should do to look more presentable. Gradually, his thoughts shifted from self-admiration to planning his future marriage. He thought that he would marry a rich doctor having a good practice and that he would choose a fat lady as his wife so that she would not be able to run and catch him.

He was so engrossed in his day dreaming that he did not give much importance to the sudden silence. The rats had stopped scampering and there was a sound of something falling behind hint. But he was slow to react. By the time he turned round to have a look, the snake had wriggled over the back of the chair and landed on his shoulders and coiled round his left arm above the elbow. It was a dangerous cobra and its hood spread out, hardly three inches from his face. The doctor sat there like a stone statue, afraid to move, lest the snake may strike. He thought of various medicines he had and if any was good enough to save him if the snake did bite him. In this moment of fear of death, he realized the presence of God. God had punished him for being too proud and arrogant. He realized that he was but a mere human, a poor man, nothing to boast about.

The moment he accepted his true worth, the Gods appeared pleased and the snake of its own free will left him and sat on the table in front of the mirror. The doctor got up silently and rushed out of the door. Next morning when he came back, all his belongings had been pilfered but for his dirty vest which was too dirty even for the thief.

The story dearly highlights the fact that one should not be proud of oneself because whatever he has is a gift of God. Without his benign support you are nothing. The moment he realized this the Gods recalled the snake, who left without hurting him.

Quick Revision Notes

  • This is an interesting story. It is about a doctor’s encounter with a snake. 
  • The doctor lived in a small rented room full of rats. One night, he was reading a book. 
  • A kerosene lamp was burning on the table. There was also a large Mirror on the table. 
  • Suddenly something fell on the back of the chair. 
  • He turned to see what it was/He froze with fear when he saw that it was a big snake. 
  • The snake then coiled itself around the doctor’s left arm. The doctor prayed to God. 
  • Then the snake looked into the mirror on the table. 
  • Luckily, the snake liked its own image in the mirror. It wanted to have a closer look at its image. 
  • So, it uncoiled itself from the arm and came on the table. The doctor at once got and ran out of the room. 
  • He spent the night at the house of one of his friends. The next morning he came back to his room. 
  • He was shocked to find that during the night some thief had taken away everything from his room.
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