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Role of Food in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar

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The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar is rich with an array of motifs, all which serve to sustain the novel’s primary themes. A motif particularly prevalent within the first half of the novel involves food, specifically Esther Greenwood’s relationship with food. This peculiar relationship corroborates the book’s themes of Esther’s continuous rebirthing rituals, and of her extreme dissatisfaction. The interrelation with food functions in two distinct manners: literally and figuratively. This analysis will concentrate on the figurative role of food in The Bell Jar, and how it denotes Esther’s overall state. Early on in the novel, Esther establishes her attitude towards food: “I’m not sure why it is, but I love food more than just about anything else. Not matter how much I eat, I never put on weight” (Plath 24). This admission instantaneously demonstrates Esther’s strong attachment to food, in addition to its lack of effect on her. Esther eats and eats but does not gain weight, it is almost as if food cannot fulfill her (literally and figuratively). Moreover, food never app...