Theme Of Depression In The Bell Jar

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Life is full of endless amounts of beautiful encounters for every character in the novel The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, except for Esther. She suffers from a severe and complex mental illness that impacts her life greatly. Although it is clear that Esther suffers strongly from depression in the novel, Sylvia Plath chooses to tell her life abstractly through countless symbols and ironies to prove that Esther depression completely consumes her. Everything that Esther sees is through a lens of depression, which scews her outlook on life.
An irony that is carried throughout the entire novel is the fact that Esther works in a prestigious fashion world, yet she sees everything gruesomely and cynically. This is also according to the article Down a
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Esther reads a poem about the life of a fig tree, which includes details of the love and prosperous life of the tree, and the heavenly life of the characters in the poem. Once she is finished reading, her thoughts trail off onto the comparison of the fig tree to her own life. She describes the aspect of having a husband and kids as one fig, and her favorite editor on another and so on and so forth. However, later on in the story Esther describes these figs, “... they began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet,” (Plath 77). Once she came to the realization that none of these aspects would ever be a part of her life, because of her depression, she vastly loses more and more hope, from the little hope that she did have before. Not only was the loss of hope about love and her passion for writing, but her hope for her own life lasting any longer.
The fig tree is a very known section of the novel, and as stated in the article The Feeding of a Young Women by Caroline Smith, “... this passage is a metaphor for Esther’s psychological deterioration…” The fig tree is an important turning point for Esther, as she comes to the acceptance of her depression which causes her to now have a look at the world only through the lenses of depression. From that point on, everything Esther sees is ever more hell-like and

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