Esther’s depression begins from the start of the novel. She even wonders why she feels sad, as she “was supposed to be the envy of thousands of other college girls just like me all over America” (Plath 2). Esther understands that her situation is better than that of most girls and is incapable of even understanding why she is upset with her life. After a night out, she simply states, “The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence” (Plath 15). Esther feels that she is not like others at her age or even like others in New York. She prefers to be alone, and she purposely leaves her friends during her night out to get away from all of the commotion. She later thinks about all of the dreams she has and …show more content…
Esther feels limited by society everywhere she goes. Even before she enters mental institutions, she feels trapped by societal norms.
3. Esther bluntly tells Doctor Nolan that she hates her mother. What is Mrs. Greenwood 's role in Esther 's life and in the novel? Is Esther just in her presentation of and attitude toward her mother? Mrs. Greenwood follows tradition with the way she expects her daughter to handle herself. She expects Esther to not have sex and maintain her virginity for her husband, a common social expectation of the time. She also pushes Esther to learn shorthand so that she can be a secretary, a common job for a woman at the time. At the same time, she worries about her daughter and cares for her wellbeing. Esther claims that “She never scolded me, but kept begging me, with a sorrowful face, to tell her what she had done wrong” (Plath 166). From this, it can be deduced that Mrs. Greenwood greatly cares about her daughter. Ester is not just in her presentation of her mother because her mother care for her and even paid most of her medical bills. Her mother, however, does not see her illness as a real thing. She believes Esther is creating it herself. It was Mrs. Greenwood who first put Esther in the mental hospital. In fact, once Esther is released from therapy, her mother tells her, “We’ll take up where we left off, Esther” (Plath 193). Her statement
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While Esther is certainly mentally ill, she experiences moments of clarity in which she can address her own sadness. She describes her illness as a bell jar, a recurring metaphor for confinement, in that wherever she went, she would be “sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air” (Plath 207). Esther feels trapped within her own head, plagued by the same thoughts of insecurity and despondency over and over again.
Slowly declining from the mental strain of school and work and relationships, Esther begins to question her reason for being here, introducing a more obvious form of her mental state, “How could I write about life when I’d never had a love affair or a baby or even seen anybody die?” (Plath 121). Esther realizes that she hasn’t really lived life. During her downfall into depression, she begins to realize that she doesn’t have control over herself and that the future that she envisioned for herself isn’t the future she will in fact
Early in the novel, Esther expresses her dissatisfaction with the nature of mentoring, observing that "all the old ladies I ever knew wanted to teach me something, but I suddenly didn't think they had anything to teach me" (5). Added to the list of problematic mentors and mothers could be Mrs. Willard, with all of her negative associations as potential mother-in-law. She, like those mentioned specifically by Esther, represent conformity to others' expectations. Esther's problem with mentoring and modeling is not limited to older women. It extends as well as Doreen and Betsy, who represent conflicting images of Esther. Doreen is referred to by the narrator as "one of my troubles" rather than one of her friends (4). Esther perceives Betsy as an attempted rescuer, saying she behaved "as if she were trying to save me in some way" (5). This resentment toward those women who try to help her can be read as a reflection of Esther's fear of conformity.
The relationship gains the approval of both of the individuals parents and many expect them to settle down and start a family. While finding a life partner is what society of the time deemed a success for a woman, Esther resented Buddy's expectation of her to simply distance herself from her desire to be a poet and become a mother. “I also remembered Buddy Willard saying in a sinister, knowing way that after I had children I would feel differently, I wouldn't want to write poems any more. So I began to think maybe it was true that when you were married and had children it was like being brainwashed, and afterward you went about numb as a slave in some private, totalitarian state.” (Plath The Bell Jar). Buddy’s views become clear to Esther and lead her to finally decide that she is not willing to subside to them. Esther isn’t willing to let go of her creativity in exchange for motherhood, however she feels that she in unable to proclaim this as Buddy’s views correlate with those of her society. Her first escape from alienation, her first feelings of liberation from Buddy Willard and his views are illustrated when Esther asks her trusty doctor, Dr. Nolan to go for a ‘’fitting’’. Esther feels free as she climbs up onto the examination table: she feels both mentally and physically prepared to take on Buddy. Unfortunately, “Ever since I’d learned about
While at home, Esther becomes into a deep depression when thinking about her experience in New York. She doesn’t want to read, write, or sleep and she stops bathing herself. Her mother sends her to see Dr. Gordon who is her first psychiatrist whom she doesn’t like and doesn’t trust. He is the man with a good looking family, and to Esther he is conceited. He doesn’t help Esther, but only hurts her more. He prescribes her with shock treatment. After this horrifying experience, she decides to kill herself. She tries to slit her wrists, but can only bring herself to slicing her calf. She tries to hang herself but can’t find a place to tie the rope, she tries to drown herself at the beach, but cannot keep herself under water, and then she crawls into a space in the basement and takes a lot of sleeping pills. “Wherever I sat—on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok—I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.” (Plath pg. 117) This quote shows how she felt trapped in the bell jar, and her suicidal urges began. She awakes in the hospital to find that her attempt at suicide wasn’t successful. She is sent to another psychological ward where she still wants to end her life. Esther becomes very paranoid and uncooperative. She gets moves to a private hospital paid for by Philomena Guinea a famous novelist. Esther improves and gets a new
Esther is experiencing internal conflict. This is a book about mental illness, so majority of the conflicts will be within her own mind. Esther in unable to understand why she is not taking advantage of her trip more. She knows many other girls would have done anything to be like her. She lacks the excitement she thinks she should have and doesn’t understand why she does not have it. At this point in the book Esther is just seeing the tip of the iceberg. She thinks the feeling of not belonging will go away and doesn’t treat the feeling as a major problem.
In her search for identity, Esther often compares herself to others. One sign of depression is the feeling the need to compare yourself to others. Throughout the story, Esther questions other’s morals and characteristics and tries to apply them to herself. One
She was sold in a slave auction, along with a few other slaves, few other slaves, and purchased by the slave owner Joseph Parish. The walk about the plantation was a long one as the very people she loved so dearly was forced to be only a batch of memories, she knew that she would never see her mother, or father again. The last words of her mother repeatedly played over, and over in her head as she walked with the other newly bought slaves on the way to the cotton plantation. Be strong my child, know that this is what you were born to do, but promise me, if you bear a child of your own, please make them free, said Esther 's mother as she had her daughter stripped right out of her arms. Her father would console her mother as the very thing her family hoped, and prayed wouldn 't happen, happened. This wasn 't new to Esther as both her parents brought her into the world of slavery, they all knew that possibly one day their family could be split up. The first couple of weeks without having her parents by her side were difficult, without having their guidance. She was lost. Even though tears may have flown down her face that did not stop her from doing her duties as a field slave. Day in and day out, Esther picked hundreds of pounds of cotton a day, outdoing the rest of the slaves. This would later grab the attention of one the plantation 's overseers, Seth Parish. My, my, my, you all let this young, beautiful, negro girl out pick you all by the
Esther refuses to allow society to control her life. Esther has a completely different approach to life than the rest of her peers do. The average woman during this time is supposed to be happy and full of joy. Esther, on the other hand, attempts to repress her natural gloom, cynicism, and dark humor. This eventually becomes too hard for her and causes her emotions to go crazy. She begins to have ideas
Three days later, she is found and placed in a mental hospital. First assigned to a rich psychiatrist named Dr. Gordon, Esther feels harassed by the doctors surrounding her. She feels that they do not really care about her; in a sense, they don’t. After seeing Esther three times, he states that she is not improving due to the fact that she has not been able to sleep, read, eat, or write in three weeks. She is moved to his mental asylum, where she suffers through electroshock therapy for the first time. The procedure is done incorrectly and she is shocked, literally.
Esther evidently feels as if she is constantly being judged and tested, although in fact she is not. Her magnified sense of distrust is illustrated repeatedly throughout the course of the book, at once involving the reader and developing her own characteristic response to unique situations. Finally, one who views occurrences which can only be categorized as coincidental as being planned often experiences a suspicious response. When she finds out that an acquaintance from high school is at the same hospital, her first reaction is wariness: "It occurred to me that Joan, hearing where I was, had engaged the room at the asylum on pretence, simply as a joke." (Plath 207). Although the reader is incredulous of the protagonist's manner of thought, it is also possible to feel a connection to the situation. Such a
Esther’s mother and society’s expectation as a woman, which is to be a good wife and a mother, suffocate and demoralize Esther’s dream as a professional writer. Esther’s mother wants her to “...learn shorthand after college, so I’d have a practical skill as well as a college degree” (Plath 40). Her mother believes that Esther cannot further advance her education as a writer and simply wants her to be a secretary since professional career for women was uncommon and discouraged because it disturbs the role as a married woman. These pressures often obliged her to fall into the societal expectations, to give up her higher education, and to marry somebody. However, she knew that the marriage and the babies were not for her, “because cook and clean and wash were just about
Esther was constantly pushed around by men, which was a stereotype in the 1950’s that men controlled the women and were always in charge. Esther had a relationship with a man named Buddy Willard who was expecting that she was just going to marry him. Men believed that they had everything a woman may desire, but actually they did not. Women were forced to marry men because of their fortune or family relations.
She stops writing, bathing, changing her clothes, and sleeping. This worries her mother, who sends Esther to a psychiatrist who prescribes her to shock therapy. But instead of having the shock treatment healing Esther, the doctors do the procedure improperly and terrify her, which leads her into a living hell.