Essay on Esther's Path to Fulfillment

Essay on Esther's Path to Fulfillment

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The picture of the perfect 1950s marriage as depicted through television sitcoms of that era display a happy family with a loving dutiful wife, a handsome businessman husband, and two or three children. What marriage then or now does this idealistic version truly portray? In the past few decades and especially in recent years that version of a marriage has greatly changed. The dynamic of how a marriage works has been significantly altered in the years since the 1950s. At that time the woman was expected to stay home, have babies, and care for the home while the husband was out in the work force. There is no typical American marriage anymore, every couple functions in a different way and is not expected to conform to any standards dictated by society. However, in the 1950s it was much different and young women knew that marriage for them would mean washing dishes, cooking meals, and taking care of all household chores while caring for the needs of both her children and her husband. In The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath, the main character Esther Greenberg struggles with the choice of having the career she desires or settling down and raising a family. Throughout the novel Esther feels discontentment with many aspects of her life which is amplified by psychological instability; however, her only concern that remains static throughout the novel is her uncertainty over the idea of marriage.
Esther Greenberg’s concerns about marriage can be partially attributed to her witnessing the tribulations of the married women in her life. Esther fears that if she were to get married she would become an overworked housewife and spend her days cooking, cleaning, and caring for everyone accept herself. The author states, “I knew that’s what marriage...

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...tween settling down and raising a family, or going against societal pressures and pursuing a career. Esther felt that the last thing she wanted was to get married and be subject to the monotony of marriage as she had seen in the marriages around her. In the time since this book was written there have been great advances in the empowerment of women and now women can pursue their dreams without society dictating how they live their lives.

Works Cited

1. Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique. New York, NY: Dell Pub., 1984. Print
2. Plath, Sylvia, and Karen V. Kukil. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath: 1950-1962 : Transcribed from the Original Manuscripts at Smith College. New York: Anchor, 2000. Print.
3. Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar. New York: Harper Perrenial/Modern Classics, 2005. Print
4. POLLARD, CLARE. Critical Quarterly, Autumn2006, Vol. 48 Issue 3

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