Imagine life as a woman in the 1950s: struggling with the idea that men are superior to women, and stuck in a life filled with empty opportunities. Esther Greenwood, protagonist from the novel The Bell Jar, contemplated this problem as she began learning the typical customs expected of women during the 1950s. Pressured by both her mother and society to accept a future devoid of genuine happiness and adventure, Esther lost control of her own life and spiraled downward into a continuous cycle of denial and depression. During the 1950s, a typical family consisted of a working father, a stay-at-home mother, and respectful children, all living together in a safe, suburban neighborhood. Author Sylvia Plath questions these family structures, with traditional gender roles, through her characters of Esther Greenwood and her mother, Mrs. Greenwood.
Family structures play important roles in the development children and their prosperity. The number of parents, the type of parents, and the relationship between parents can be linked to a child 's well-being. According to Child Trends Databank, “...[children] living...in single-parent households, are less likely...to exhibit behavioral self-control, and more likely to be exposed to high levels of aggravated parenting, than are children living with two biological parents” (“Family Structure” 2). Not only do single parents have a tendency to raise children with less self-control, but the typical low income plays a factor in the child’s social and physical well being. Also, children living in stepfamilies or with divorced parents “have lower academic performance, social achievement, and psychological adjustment than children with married parents” (...
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...ding to the children. Children were expected to appreciate their parents and to achieve respect and manners. Along with these rigid gender roles, came discrimination between the dominant male figure, and the subordinate female figure. Controversy arose between this inequality, and resulted in the publishing of documents and books discussing the issue. Author Sylvia Plath questioned the idea of traditional family structures through her character, Esther Greenwood. Plath illustrated the downfall of Esther’s sanity, as Esther discovered her obligation to accept marriage and commitment. Although a fictional character, Esther Greenwood was an example of the struggles and conflicts that women faced during the 1950s. In together, men, women, and children all faced hardships in the 1950s as a result of the rigid gender roles and the expectation to conform to society’s norms.
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