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From the very beginning, Plath lets the reader know that all is not as well as it seems. Esther has won a fashion magazine contest. As her prize, she was given a job and accommodations in New York City. While this seems like a dream come true, Esther says, “I guess I should have been excited the way most of the other girls were, but I couldn’t get myself to react. I felt very still and very empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.” This use of metaphor helps the reader to better understand how Esther felt. Right from the start, there is something different about Esther, and her unhappiness continues to grow throughout the story. Esther takes to hanging out with another one of the girls, Doreen. Doreen has a habit of blowing off deadlines in favor of men and alcohol. Esther follows her around one night, and upon returning to her room comments, “The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence.” This statement, made more effective by the first person point of view, conveys Esther’s growing sense of unhappiness.
As Esther descends further into madness, a very vivid picture is painted. The once healthy young woman can no longer sleep, eat, or read. Stunning imagery is used when describing Esther’s inability to sleep. “…even my eyelids didn’t shut out the light. They hung the raw, red screen of their tiny vessels in front of me like a wound.” This description emphasizes the pain that Esther’s mental illness is inflicting upon her, through use of such words as “raw”, “red”, and “wound”.
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