The Struggle In Esther Inher's The Bell Jar

1619 Words7 Pages
Esther Greenwood, a straight A student from Boston, Massachusetts who won a guest editorship for Mademoiselle Magazine(Johnson 35) in New York City, finds a mystifying new world at her very own feet. While taking in the city life and gaining inspiration to fulfill her dream of becoming a writer, she realizes that she has vast potential in her future. During her editorship in New York, Esther is determined to explore her options since she is at a point in her life where she needs to decide who she wants to be. Esther has always had many expectations to live up to, especially from her mother. Due to the pressure that she feels from society, she must succeed at whatever she decides to be. Considering Esther is raised to be a perfectionist, choosing her path in life is her leading struggle; if she picks the wrong one, she wont be able to live with her mistake. Struggling with the constant problems of morality, behavior, and identity, Esther becomes distracted from succeeding in her dream when she finds out she did not get accepted into a writing course that she was interested in. This all leads to her spiraling into depression and attempting suicide. In the novel, The Bell Jar, Esther’s indecisiveness causes her unnecessary stress and illness, leading her to constantly feel trapped under a “bell jar” in her own mind. Esther envisions her life as a fig tree in which she cannot choose a single branch. At one point in the novel, Esther reads a story about a fig tree which turns into a symbol of the choices she is given available to her. She states, “I saw my life branching out before me like a green fig tree…I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig-tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I... ... middle of paper ... ...er time in various hospitals and mental institutions, the bell jar is finally lifted. Esther Greenwood struggles with perfectionism and society lead to a downward spiral and suicide attempt. Her inability to choose a path for her life and her social interactions with those around her makes her feel trapped inside herself. Esther feels that she has been rejected from both social and intellectual worlds, causing her world to totally change. Her lack of identity produces the irony found in The Bell Jar and it is only when she learns to stand outside of the world of the bell jar, does she truly begin to see her innerself. Jay Cee’s comments about her inatequacy and her rejection from writing school have a detramental impact on Esther’s self-esteem that she feels she cannot overcome. She feels she is not good enough or perfect enough to achieve the happiness she desires.

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