Explore what these images mean to Esther, and how they keep her connected to reality. The Bell Jar is heavily populated with female characters, representing a range of female stereotypes. There are the cheerful college co-eds who are eager to experience New York fully, the blunted affect peers at the mental institution, and, among others, a successful supervisor in the magazine office and a compassionate and capable psychiatrist who could serve as positive role models.
Initially, Esther compares herself against each of these groups or individuals, and often finds herself lacking. Yet Esther rejects almost every possible model of womanhood that is offered to her, struggling to define her own ideas of what it means to be a woman. The simple title and image of The Bell Jar belies the multiple meanings that this image can impose on the novel.
As an object, a bell jar is a glass container which holds a specimen. As a symbolic representation of an emotional state, the bell jar can take on a wide range of meanings, including the feeling of being trapped and the sense of being watched or studied, to name just two possible interpretations.
Select one or more passages in which Esther makes a direct reference to the bell jar, and use these excerpts to offer your insight about what this symbol means to Esther. Explain why you think the bell jar will trap Esther again, or why you believe she is free forever. Aside from the thesis statements above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way.
All quotes contain page numbers as well. I felt very still and very empty…moving dully along…. It was my first big chance, but here I was, sitting back and letting it run through my fingers like so much water. She read a couple of languages and knew all the quality writers in the business.
Jay Cee has forced her to take a good look at herself, and what she sees scares her. She retreats more within herself. The bell jar is covered tightly over her. She decides to quit on herself and all she has worked for. Esther feels a disconnection between the way other people view her life and the way she experiences life. By all external measures, Esther should feel happy, and excited, because she has overcome her middle-class small town background. Esther feels uncertain about her own abilities and about the reward that there abilities have earned her.
Eventually the gap between societal expectation and her own feelings and experiences become so large that she feels she can no longer survive. Her personal and professional accomplishments have become a source not only of public satisfaction but also of frustration. Esther feels she is not good enough and tries to escape a world that shuns her and does not let her breath. She herself inflicts the thought of not being perfect enough; she seems to think that if she achieves perfection she achieves happiness.
Throughout her life she had perfect grades and the perfect boyfriend, Buddy Willard. Her world come crashing down when Buddy confesses that he had sexual relations with a waitress one summer.
Esther begins to think that she must find that perfect person inside her so she uses alter egos and personality adaptations, which lead her into confusion and self-denial.
Her illness reaches great severity. She becomes delusional, instantly hating her doctor. Her crying is filled with distress and anguish. Gordon makes no attempt to understand her suffering; he merely attempts to make her normal again with electroshock therapy, that increases rather than lessens her pain. She feels that the electroshock therapy is not a treatment but rather a punishment for some terrible, unknown crime. It gives us good reason to believe that she herself has experienced electroshock therapy.
The idea of electric current passing through human beings, in order to ease their pain, was conceived by a scientist. The scientist witnessed that pigs that were electrocuted while being slaughtered cutting their throats suffered less than those that were not electrocuted.
This is an idea that is cruel and appalling. During her hospital stay, Esther reinforces the idea that mental illness is a defect to be hidden, sanitized, and denied.
Instead of being an illness to be discussed, understood, or cured. A mentally ill or disturbed person is viewed with extreme disgust, by society. They were going to pretend that her stay in the asylum never occurred and that it was all a bad dream. Even though she was being treated by a psychiatrist, Dr.
Gordon, Esther begins to dwell on suicide, and the shock therapy sends her into a deeper depression. She overdoses on prescription pills. Now desperate, her mother sends her to a state mental institution, where Esther meets Dr.
Under compassionate supervision, and carefully conducted shock treatments; Esther begins to improve. Esther begins to think differently, and it is through this therapy that Esther begins to breath once again. She had been lost, the road ahead of her was dark and blurry. She was forced to invent and live in her own world. A world where she could be whoever she wanted. She had been living physically but not emotionally, until she begins to slowly recover from her depression.
The fog has been lifted and she can see again. By overcoming some of her demons, Esther manages to become a productive member of society. Once she is able to reveal her true self in her own way, she develops new confidence and perspective. However, she is still oppressed by the threatening nature of the bell jar. I felt surprisingly at peace. The bell jar hung, suspended, a few feet above my head.
At last Esther is free, but not totally. It is like a dark cloud waiting to envelop her once again, in her madness. Esther is able to go on with a seemingly functional life. But she feels like a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode. In this explosion she would once again lose herself. She wonders if she will be lost forever, never to be given another chance to be whole again.
This is a terrible suffocating burden for her.
- The Bell Jar - Feminist Thought The Bell Jar This autobiographical novel by Sylvia Plath follows the story of Esther Greenwood, a third year college student who spends her summer at a lady's fashion magazine in Manhattan.
The Bell Jar literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Bell Jar.
The Bell Jar as a Controlling Image in The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar contains a constant reference to a bell jar that acts as a controlling image. The bell jar in the novel controls the novel in three ways. It acts as a symbol for the depression that Esther Greenwood, the central character, experiences. The Bell Jar Essay. BACK; NEXT ; Writer’s block can be painful, but we’ll help get you over the hump and build a great outline for your paper.
Aug 28, · The Bell Jar is both a true story and a novel. Describe the ways in which Plath selects and presents the episodes that she describes to give her narrative dramatic shape. Describe the ways in which Plath selects and presents the episodes that she describes to give her narrative dramatic shape. Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #5 The Symbol of the Bell Jar. The simple title and image of The Bell Jar belies the multiple meanings that this image can impose on the novel. As an object, a bell jar is a glass container which holds a specimen.