Motifs In The Bell Jar

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Blood is commonly associated with pain and suffering. In The Bell Jar, Plath uses the recurring motif of blood as a metaphor to signify Esther’s lack of conformity to the world around her. Esther states she dislikes blood by saying,“My trouble was I hated the sight of blood”(Plath 138). She can’t seem to conform to society’s standards and hates her inability to do so just like she hates blood. Her constant struggle to fit the expectations of others is very painful which is why it’s marked by blood in the novel.
Esther spends most of The Bell Jar telling the reader how she wants to lose her virginity. Even though Esther wants to lose her virginity before marriage, that’s conflicting with 1950’s America’s views of purity and chastity for women. Her view is that there shouldn’t be double standards for men and women and if men aren’t pure for marriage she shouldn’t be required to either. Her outright defiance of society’s norms is marked in the novel by her extreme hemorrhaging. The unusual …show more content…

She feels that she isn’t accepted and despite her attempts to create a new identity to be like the other girls she can’t. She eventually resorts to violence to suppress the anxiety of non-conformity. The first time she intentionally hurts herself in the novel is marked by blood. She is unable to slice her wrists, but experiments instead with her calf. She doesn’t register the pain in her head like a normal person, and instead gets a “small, deep thrill”(148) from seeing the blood ooze out. This quote represents Esther’s internal battle where she tries to muster her true self to fit in but it never fails to emerge. The sensible side is telling her that she hates the sight of blood and shouldn’t inflict pain on herself, but the darker side she tries so hard to suppress is telling her it’s the only thing in her life that brings her pleasure even if it’s unusual and shunned by the society around

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