The Bell Jar By Sylvia Plath Essay

The Bell Jar By Sylvia Plath Essay

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Sylvia Plath’s autobiography, The Bell Jar, recalls the events of her own mental breakdown and suicide attempt, as well as her restoration and return into the outside world. In so many ways, Plath’s novel is centered around the struggles of a young woman who cannot reach her goals in a male dominated society. In Sylvia Plath’s novel, The Bell Jar, the author utilizes figurative language and concrete examples to explore the traditional gender roles of being a woman in the 1950s.
The people familiar with Esther, do not welcome her capability to write poems and novels, but rather try to push her into more traditional female roles. "When I tried to picture myself in some job, briskly jotting down line after line of shorthand, my mind went blank" (Plath 100). Esther, different from the many women of her time, refuses to be controlled by society 's gender based constraints. Esther looks up to many women who eventually let her down. Esther admires Doreen, another young woman also working on the magazine staff. Doreen is a "wise-cracking" woman who rejects the "cookie cutter" image that most young women hold. Doreen befriends Esther asking her to go out with her. Esther looks up to Doreen for those reasons. Esther feels let down by Doreen when she notices Doreen’s dependency on men. Doreen lets a man disrespect her, and Esther loses all respect for her. "I made a decision about Doreen that night. I decided I would watch her and listen to what she said, but deep down I would have nothing at all to do with her" (Plath 19). All of the women Esther meets symbolize an aspect of some stereotype of womanhood. They all dramatically impact Esther’s life. Although Esther ultimately rejects the stereotypes the women represent, they are all respons...


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...ve as a symbol of women’s roles in the 1950s. The word "Bell" written as “Belle” portrays a woman in American culture who is pleased to be a desired object of her husband. A woman of the 1950’s, as the "Belle" is supposed to be content in the "housewife" role that is socially constructed and imposed. Sylvia Plath utilizes her own values, and personal life events into the autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar. Her viewpoint is clearly illustrated within the literary novel through the feminist lens that approaches aspects of inequality based on gender, and the custom beliefs of women in the 1950’s. Sylvia Plath took her own life not even two years before the start of the women 's movement. Although Plath has not been physically involved in women’s movement, her novel was. The Bell Jar is an important novel for women as it gives insight to the social oppresion they face.

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