Esther Greenwood's Search for Identity in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar

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One’s identity is the most important lesson to be learned. It is vital part of life knowing who you are in order to live a fulfilled life. Without knowing your identity, and the way you perceive life, it is difficult for others to understand you, along with a struggle to live a happy life. In Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar,” Esther Greenwood struggles to find her own identity, and in the process, she develops a mental illness which helps her discover the person she is on the inside. In her search for identity, Esther often compares herself to others. One sign of depression is the feeling the need to compare yourself to others. Throughout the story, Esther questions other’s morals and characteristics and tries to apply them to herself. One example of this is at the beginning of the novel. She wonders if she is more like her friend Betsy, or her friend, Doreen. She describes Betsy as a good girl, and Doreen as more of the bad girl type. Although Betsy is a cheerful and optimistic person, Esther concludes that she can relate more to Betsy. She cannot understand why though, because she feels as if she is not a happy, nor optimistic person. Another conflict that Esther struggles with is the way she interacts with others. Esther will go out with her friends, however, she uses an alias, who she named Elly Higginbottom. She does not enjoy being herself because if she is herself, she cannot have fun. When Esther plays the roll of Elly, or even when she admits to being herself, Esther does not interact with the people around her to a social level. Esther will not carry on a conversation with more than a few words at a time. She is very negative or monotone in her answers and normally does not ask many questions to others. Instead, E... ... middle of paper ... ...et well. Dr. Nolan is the only role model character in the novel in which Esther shows love to. Dr. Nolan supports Esther in a way that she wishes her mother could support her. She encourages Esther’s unusual thinking and doesn’t tell her it’s wrong to think the way she does. She puts great trust into Dr. Nolan because she promised her that nothing would go wrong during her shock treatment, and Esther accepted her proposal. At the end of the novel, Esther finally see’s a light at the end of the tunnel. She finally realizes that there is hope for her to become healthy again. Once Esther realizes that she will not always feel as bad as she does, she also comes to the conclusion that all the negativity and questioning in her life have made her into the person she has become. Esther finally realizes what her true identity is and she is okay with who she has become.

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