The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

On January 14th of 1963, Sylvia Plath had finally completed The Bell Jar after approximately two years of writing. This novel could have been considered a partial autobiography, because the main character Esther Greenwood eerily represents Sylvia Plath. There are a number of references to Plath’s real life throughout the book, too many for it to be considered a mere coincidence. Within the story, Esther Greenwood considers and attempts suicide quite frequently. Could this novel have been foreshadowing Sylvia’s death, which took place a little less than a month after?
Esther Greenwood was a scholarship student attending an all-women’s college in New York. While in school, she wrote for a women’s magazine under the supervision of her editor Jay Cee. Writing was her passion and she especially loved poetry. Unfortunately, the college life and New York City were not exactly what Esther had thought they would be. She always found herself being a third wheel or the outsider of the group. This may have been the spark that began her battle with depression. Either that, or the realization that her childhood crush Buddy Willard, a medical student at Yale, was a hypocrite. He and Esther had known each other since a very young age through the church and their parents had intended for them to eventually be married. After Buddy invited Esther to attend Yale’s prom, they began spending a lot of time together until she found out that he had lost his virginity to a sleazy waitress. This contradicted everything Buddy was and had claimed to be. His whole good and pure act was flawed whenever Esther discovered these facts. She was especially hurt, because they were very competitive with each other and she now wanted to lose her virginity so as to no...

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...Rosenbergs mentioned in the first paragraph of the novel were casualties of this period, also called the McCarthy era. (Shmoop Editorial Team)
Also during this time period was the baby boom, every woman was having babies. Thus, the pressure was on Esther to get married and have children. She was pressured by society to be like everyone else and settle down like everyone else had.

Works Cited

“Biography.” N.p., N.d., Web. 9 May 2014.
F., Emma, “Sylvia Plath.” N.p., N.d., Web. 8 May 2014.
Plath, Sylvia. “The Bell Jar.” New York: Harper and Row, 1971.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Bell Jar Setting." Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 9 May 2014.
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