Did Esther Trap Herself in "The Bell Jar"?

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The Bell Jar is an autobiography of a female sophomore. The girl-Esther, who is 19 years old, came from suburban area of Boston. As she had talent writing skills, she was invited to New York to serve as guest editor in a national fashion magazine office. In her one-month stay in New York, on one hand, Esther was cautious and conscientious to learn from an able and efficient female editor-Jay Cee, and she dreamt to follow Jay Cee’s successful step. On the other hand, she met various men and women in her colorful social life. These experiences reminded her of her life in women’s university, especially her relationship with her boyfriend- Buddy Willard. As the recollection often interweaved with reality, they brought Esther perplexity, discouragement and lost. Esther could not even more figure out the significance of reality as well as the goal of her own life. When her life in New York came to an end, Esther came back her hometown to spend the summer vacation with her mother. However, a new incident hard hit Esther- she was rejected by the writing course that she was given high expectation by professors in her university. The conservative atmosphere in the town made Esther feel days wear on like years. Esther denied completely that all achievements she got in past 19 years, and she even felt doubtful and terrified toward the future. Facing such heavy pressure, she was broken down totally. Since she was lost at that time, she tried to put an end to her life. After she was saved, she received psychological consultation in a psychiatric hospital. In this period, she rethought and relocated her position, and she rebuilt confidence step by step. At the end of the novel, Esther waited to leave hospital and she looked forward to starting a...

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...which were dead in mothers’ belly, were placed in the bottle. To Esther, this image always linked to abnormal growth, suffocation and death: “The air of the bell jar wadded round me and I couldn’t sir” (p.178). The latter part in the novel, Esther experienced a serious of symbolic events, and she began all over again and was ready to new life. However, what waited for her was still the contradiction that the society put on women, and the value of women could not be totally reflected as before. It could be predicted that in such society-value was distorted like the bell jar, Esther would be probable to fall into the “crisis of roles” and lost the courage for living again. The novel did not describe Esther’s “new born”, anyhow, the “new born” of the author-Sylvia Plath did not last for a long time.


Sylvia Plath (2005). The Bell Jar. Faber and Faber Press

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