The Characters of Women in The Handmaid's Tale and The Bell Jar Essay

The Characters of Women in The Handmaid's Tale and The Bell Jar Essay

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Women in The Handmaid's Tale and The Bell Jar


Sylvia Plath's renowned autobiographical legend "The Bell Jar" and Margaret Atwood's fictional masterpiece "The handmaid's tale" are the two emotional feminist stories, which basically involve the women's struggle. Narrated with a touching tone and filled with an intense feminist voice, both novels explore the conflict of their respective protagonists in a male dominated society. In spite of several extraordinary similarities in terms of influential characterization and emotive themes, both novels are diverse as far as their respective style, structure and setting is concerned. While Plath's preference of frequent flashback is admirable and absorbing, Atwood's choice of presenting her novel in terms of headed chapters that alternate between her peaceful past and chaotic present is, indeed, fascinating. On the contrary, although Atwood's symbolic style enriched with biblical metaphors is ironical and inspiring, Plath's touching use of meaningful motifs and descriptive imagery suits its admiration as one of the best autobiographical fiction.


"The Bell Jar" penned by Sylvia Plath, is a tragic tale of Esther Greenwood, her depressing experiences of life and social relationship and her eventual mental breakdown resulting with her attempts of committing suicide. On the other hand, Margaret Atwood's award winning novel "The Handmaid's Tale" depicts the haunting experiences of Gilead, where sexual repression and religious extremism was not uncommon. Both novels have female protagonist, who are victims of rape and sexual violence. Marco, a guy on a blind date with Esther, calls her a "slut" and tries to rape her, and Esther's struggle can be reveal...

... middle of paper ...

...w did I know that someday . . . the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn't descend again?" (The Bell Jar, p.296). Conversely, the title of "The Handmaid's Tale" is straightforward which gives an initiative to the reader that it is a story of a handmaid struggling to survive in the midst of the cruelty.


From the literary analysis of the novels it is evident that, both stories have similar themes and both authors used female characters to convey their feelings about feminist issues, especially in terms of loneliness and isolation. However, there are many diversities between these two stories, especially in terms of structure and style. In a nutshell, "The Bell Jar" and "The Handmaid's tale", are indeed, literary gems in the field of feminist literature that would definitely satisfy the literary thirst of their aspiring readers.


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