Analysis of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar

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“Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.” (

The Bell Jar is a very complicated book that deals with very complex issues. There are numerous ways this book can be examined this paper will focus on analysis through the use of theories. There are a plethora of different theories that could be utilized to dissect this book this paper will focus on five.

The first theory to be discussed is structuralism, this theory is composed of many different branches. The branches that this paper will be looking into is archetypes. The definition of of archetype is typical images, characters, narrative designs and themes and other literary phenomena. Archetypes have their own form of criticism that is called archetypal criticism. Archetypal criticism means the generic, recurring and conventional elements in literature that cannot be explained through historical influence or tradition.

Some examples of archetypes are, the wounded child, the victim, the villain, the rebel, the savior, finding redemption, death, and the happy ending. Now that there is an understanding of what an archetype is we can look at four different archetypes in The Bell Jar.

The first archetype in The Bell Jar, is the character of Doreen, she would be seen as the bad-girl. She is very easy, not very smart but very pretty, she relates well to the character of Helen of troy who embodied all of the things aspects before.

The second example is the character of Esther, she can be seen as the victim and as the heroine. The reason she can be seen as the victim is because of the many injustices she faces. For example when she is subjec...

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3.) Example Archetypes,, November 30/09

4.) Margaret Anne Class Notes, Nov 30/09

5.) Dobbs, Jeannine. “Viciousness in the Kitchen” Modern Language Studies, Vol 7, No2

Modern Language Studies Autumn, 1977, pp.11-25

6.)The Bell Jar Literary Devices,, December 2/09

7.) The Bell Jar,, December2/09

8.)Sylvia Plath Quotes, December 4/09

9.)Bell Jar Quotes, December 4/09

10.)Astell, Anne, W, Christianity and Literature Vo 48 spring 1999 December 2/09
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