Symbolism In The Catcher In The Rye And The Bell Jar

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In both J.D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, symbolism is used through the employment of imagery and metaphors. These are utilized to convey universal themes, such as alienation, pressures of conventional expectations, and sexuality. Symbolism is also utilized to portray significant and meaningful messages to the audience. In Plath’s The Bell Jar, imagery is used to show the contrast between Esther’s internal self and the external society. The bell jar, that slowly descending over her, is a symbol for the growing isolation Esther feels as her depression worsens throughout the novel and also the alienation she receives as a result of a societal stigma associated with mental illnesses such as depression. Within the first half of the novel, there are many dark images, such as the dead babies in…show more content…
Esther experiences an immense amount of pressure and confusion about where to focus her life’s purpose and how to be successful in multiple fields and aspects of her life. Her confusion is confessed symbolically through the fig-tree metaphor “I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose” (Plath 77). Esther is torn between choosing a direction in life she wants for herself and what society and the people closest to her are pressuring her to pursue. Much like Holden, Esther cannot tolerate the exceeding expectations she feels society is placing on her. By chapter 10, Esther is void of caring for her own aesthetics, as she had maintained early in the novel. The immense pressure leads to Esther’s mental and physical exhaustion, beginning of her lack of self care which is where the rapid decline of her mental health begins. This pivotal moment is signified when she admits that she had not felt like washing the lines of dried blood that marks her cheeks (Plath

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