Essay on The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Essay on The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

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What is in the spring of your life if the spring of a life refers to your first twenty years in your life? The Bell Jar, a semi-autobiographical novel by Silvia Plath, describes Esther Greenwood’s harsh spring of her life. Narrating in the first person, Esther tells her experience of a mental breakdown in a descriptive language, helping the readers visualize what she sees and feel her emotions. The novel takes place in New York City and Boston during the early 1950s when women’s roles were limited to domesticity. The repression of women’s roles in the American society during the 1950s and other influences such as her lack of confidence, her hesitance, her mother, and her feminist point of view seem to affect her mental breakdown.
Like most young adults, Esther, a nineteen-year old college student, also struggles with choosing her career after college due to the suppressed social conditions for women and her lack of confidence about herself. In the chapter seven, she adds up things she is not good at. Plath employs symbolism to demonstrate what Esther is not confident about. She cannot cook unlike her grandmother and mother. As cooking represents domestic work and women were supposed to do housework especially at this time, she expresses her uncertainty about being a good wife and mother. Also, she does not know shorthand, which signifies a practical job. Esther mentions that her mother has kept telling her that she needs to learn shorthand to get a job despite having a bachelor’s degree in English as women had difficulty in succeeding as professionals in their careers during the time. As a widow raising two children, her mother has to deal with family finances. Therefore, her mother emphasizes a practical standpoint in terms of ca...


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...sther enough due to the clouds of her life as a widow, stressing practicality in career and acceptance of the irregularities in the society. I have seen a dandelion in full bloom between the cracks of concrete. The spores of a dandelion look like a big one flower if seen from a distance, but a dandelion embraces numbers of spores. This makes me think a dandelion torturously breaks its body into numbers of pieces to survive. Again, I have seen a success of spores that overcame pains of torturing its own body despite the tough environment. Esther resembles Plath as The Bell Jar is a semi-autobiographical novel. However, even if Plath eventually died from suicide, no one can say Esther will walk in the same path with Plath. Esther can become the one of a successfully full-blown dandelion.



Works Cited

Plath, Silvia. The Bell Jar. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. Print.

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