While the image this passage conjures in the reader's mind may be largely humorous,
it nevertheless echoes a similar passage
in "The Minister's Black Veil," one much darker, in which Reverend Hooper also
sees himself in a mirror and is horrified at the reflection. Both stories point
to the great difficulty of seeing ourselves as we truly are and it is deeply ironic
that the scarecrow uses his epiphany to change while Reverend Hooper does not.
No sooner did the images, therein reflected, meet Polly's eye, than she shrieked, shrank from the stranger's side, gazed at him for a moment in the wildest dismay, and sank insensible upon the floor. Feathertop likewise had looked towards the mirror, and there beheld, not the glittering mockery of his outside show, but a picture of the sordid patchwork of his real composition, stript of all witchcraft.
The wretched simulacrum! We almost pity him. He threw up his arms, with an expression of despair that went further than any of his previous manifestations, towards vindicating his claims to be reckoned human. For perchance the only time, since this so often empty and deceptive life of mortals began its course, an illusion had seen and fully recognized itself.