The central issue of every story is conflict. Conflict is what makes literature interesting. There are six types of conflict throughout literature. Some conflicts are external and some are internal. The foundation for external conflict is “Man versus Man”. This type of conflict involves one character against another character, and can be caused for many different reasons including religious, moral, and social differences. Sylvia Plath uses “Man versus Man” conflict many times throughout her novel, The Bell Jar, as the main character falls into depression as a result of the characters around her. Esther Greenwood from the novel, The Bell Jar, becomes depressed and develops a mental illness because of her mother’s incompetence to acknowledge what is wrong with her daughter, her ex boyfriend's hypocritical ways of life, and her Doctor’s carelessness when it came to treatments.
Esther’s mother’s incompetence to acknowledge what was wrong with her daughter played a major role in Esther developing depression. Esther had just received her first shock treatment at Doctor Gordon’s private hospital. It was an awful experience for Esther. The machine had been loud and there were blue flashes that jolted her. Doctor Gordon told Esther’s mother that after a few more treatments that Esther should be much better, however Esther never wanted to undergo these treatments again.
“I’m through with that Doctor Gordon,”I said, after we had left Dodo and her black station wagon behind the pines. “You can call him up and tell him I’m not coming next week.”
My mother smiled. “I knew my baby wasn’t like that.”
I looked at her. “Like what?”
“Like those awful people. Those awful dead people at that hospital.” she paused. “I knew you...
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...he remembered what he had done to her, and she was too scared. She did not want to have to endure the pain of anymore shock treatments, and she lost respect for doctors. Instead of trusting her doctors, Esther feared them.
Sylvia Plath uses the external conflict “Man versus Man” throughout her novel to represent the events the main character endures as she falls into depression as a result of the ways that the rest of the characters treated her. Esther became depressed because her mother was in denial about what was happening, her ex-boyfriend was a hypocritical liar, and her Doctor was inadequately trained to work the medical machinery. Conflict is what makes the reader become engaged and engrossed in a book, and this is exactly what Sylvia Plath did.
Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar. New York: First Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006. Print.
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