The Bell Jar Analysis

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Esther Greenwood, the protagonist of The Bell Jar by Silvia Plath, is cast under the spell of her own depression and the story of being released from the spell follows the structure of one of the 7 plot types Christopher Booker created. These 7 plot archetypes include the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, and lastly the archetype of Rebirth. The novel The Bell Jar is classified as the Rebirth plot, in accordance with the 5 stages that make up said archetype: The Falling Stage, Recession Stage, Imprisonment Stage, Nightmare Stage, and The Rebirth Stage. Readers follow Esther as she pulls herself through the stages, through the falling, the rising, and the falling once more, until she reaches the goal of being freed from the spell of her depression and has been reborn.
The first stage of the Rebirth archetype is the “Falling Stage”. According to, this stage is the beginning of the story when the protagonist first falls under the evil spell. In The Bell Jar, Esther’s spell, which is her depression, is cast during her time in New York while on a scholarship. She doesn’t want to spend time with any of the other girls on the scholarship, go to parties, or even leave the hotel room she stays in. The only person who can reach her is her friend Doreen who eventually stops seeing Esther because of her boyfriend. Although she chooses to be alone, Esther does not enjoy the solitude. Esther describes her lonesomeness like being at the center of a tornado. She says, “I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo,” (Plath 7). Another factor that builds Esther’s imprisonment is that she refuses to r...

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... her leave the hospital and regain a sense of normality. With this new sense of hope, acceptance of the bell jar’s eternal presence, and guidance from Dr. Nolan, Esther is released from her spell and the depression will remain at bay from the Rebirth Stage and beyond.
Once again, the plot structure of The Bell Jar by Silvia Plath has 5 stages that make up the Rebirth Archetype: The Falling Stage, Recession Stage, Imprisonment Stage, Nightmare Stage, and The Rebirth Stage. In these stages, Esther falls under the wicked spell of her depression and after times of utter despair and anguish, was finally set free by her helping hand, Dr. Nolan. With these tragedies and triumphs, Esther grew from a person falling to one that is climbing and will continue to climb even with the everlasting pressure of the bell jar.

Works Cited

The Bell Jar by Silvia Plath
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