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Character Analysis of Ester Greenwood in The Bell Jar

In the disturbingly passionate novel, The Bell Jar, Esther Greenwood begins her spiraling journey into madness because of her struggles with trust and preset expectations. Once a small town girl, Esther feels like she is not truly enjoying the experiences New York has to offer her. Knowing that she is very fortunate that her writing skills and exceptional grades have given her this opportunity, Esther desperately tries to be thankful for winning the contest but just can’t. The story deliberately starts with Esther voicing her opinion about The Rosenberg Electrocution trial. She introduces Doreen, one of the twelve girls who have also won the competition with her. Doreen is someone that Esther idolizes and she feels as though she must be equal to Doreen. Esther feels like she must prove to Doreen that she is just as experienced and mature as her. This leads to Esther and Doreen going to a bar where they meet Lenny. Lenny and Doreen hit it off and go back to his apartment. In this time period, Esther is expected to find a husband in her twenties. Seeing Doreen easily attract men takes a toll on Esther’s self confidence and is only one of many examples of how she should have not let the world control her expectations of herself but does anyways. After going to a luncheon and spending a week with food poisoning, Esther goes on a blind date with Constantin, a friend of Mrs.Willard, Buddy’s mom. Esther constantly mentions her experiences with Buddy Willard throughout the story. Buddy was a handsome, smart and well respected pre-med student who unfortunately he got diagnosed with Tuberculosis. He was her college boyfriend and they seemed destined to be the inseparable power couple. That is until Esther finds out Buddy has had a secret af...

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...he must learn to love and trust others. Dr. Nolan assures Esther that the shock treatments she will give her will be safe and admistered properly. Esther ends things with Buddy and becomes his friend. She even loses her virginity to a man she hardly knows. Esther has thrown away all her cares and does not do what she is expected to do by society but instead does what she is comfortable with. Sadly, Esther’s hospital friend, Joan, commits suicide and leaves Esther shattered and scarred. However, Esther continues to get better when she learns to start trusting Dr. Nolan and Buddy. She ultimately begins to trust her self as well. After learning to disregard the expectation of everyone else and to set her own goals, Esther heals exponentially. In the end, Esther enters a conference room where she will be told if she may return home now that she has come of her bell jar.

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