Novel: The Bell Jar Author: Sylvia Plath Question: Discuss Plath’s use of imagery and metaphor to convey Esther’s psychological Instability and her recovery. Psychological issues are the patterns of behaviour that impact the different parts of one’s lifestyle. In person’s life there are many of these mental disorders that develop from depression, mood disorders, antisocial personality disorders and eating disorders. In the novel The Bell Jar, the girl Esther is struggling through her psychological disorders against the conventional persons in society and trying to break through the chains of depression. The imagery and metaphor used in the novel to convey Esther’s psychological instability and her recovery are the bell jar, the fig tree and …show more content…
The bell jar is a glass jar normally used in labs for scientific use that contain a certain kind of gas. For Esther, the bell jar represents all her problems closed inside her trying to escape. When absorbed by recklessness, she feels as if she is inside a stuffy jar that differ her view of the world, which stops her from relating with the people in society. She tried to recover from all this but like an image of a bell jar the problems are still trapped around her waiting for everything to fall. As seen in the novel on page one hundred and thirteen, ‘All the heat and fear purged itself. I felt surprisingly at peace. ‘The bell jar’ hung, suspended, a few feet above my head. I was open to the circulating …show more content…
Esther was an individual who was jealous as she wanted all this to stop; she was frustrated with her past of her father dying which also caused the development of these issues. She hated the fact of always getting scholarships and prizes, where she wanted to be different like the other girls enjoying life without problems. Esther’s dream was to travel the world as well, adoring life, not one that reflected misery, depression and mental disorders. As these complications were trapped inside her trying to escape, society created a form of depression as it was hard to control on handling these
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Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar is rich with an array of motifs, all which serve to sustain the novel’s primary themes. A motif particularly prevalent within the first half of the novel involves food, specifically Esther Greenwood’s relationship with food. This peculiar relationship corroborates the book’s themes of Esther’s continuous rebirthing rituals, and of her extreme dissatisfaction. The interrelation with food functions in two distinct manners: literally and figuratively. This analysis will concentrate on the figurative role of food in The Bell Jar, and how it denotes Esther’s overall state.
One often hears the saying, “Don't judge a man until you have walked a mile in their shoes.” The way an author uses similes can help the reader better understand how the character feel and what they're going through like Sylvia Plath in The Bell Jar. Esther Greenwood, a college student, working at a month long job as a guest editor for a fashion magazine feels like an outcast from the rest of the girls; she doesn't seem to fit in. When she arrives back home, she receives several bad news leads her into thinking suicide is the best thing to do. After multiple failed attempts, she is put into a mental hospital where she will gain hope in life and finally discover who she really is. In Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, there are several instances in which the author uses similes to illustrate a more detailed image/description to better portray how the main character felt during her New York job, her suicide attempts, and at her stay at the mental institution.
This feeling originates from the fact that she is unable to conform to one of the ways in which to pursue her life. All throughout the novel Esther battles the pressure put on her and women generally by society to bear children and focus on family life with her wish to dedicate herself to her writing hence going in a more academic direction. This oppression by society feeds her feelings of alienation: “...it wouldn't have made one scrap of difference to me, because 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 The Bell Jar) Plath uses the symbol of the bell jar in order to illustrate Esther’s personal prison. Esther is held captive beneath the bell jar. She is trapped beneath it and unable to escape just like she is trapped beneath the expectations of society. The bell jar is Esther’s own metaphor used to illustrate what she’s feeling in her day-to-day life, and the descent into mental illness. Regardless of what she’s doing or where she is, she sits alienated “under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.” Although her personal prison, the bell jar, is transparent, allowing her to view the world around her, the image she’s met with is distorted. This subsequently leads to
In The Bell Jar, Esther finds it extremely difficult to put her thoughts into words. She loses friends as she is unable to communicate with them. She lacks relationships due to her silent behaviour. “The silence depresses me. It isn’t the silence of silence. It’s my own silence,” (Plath 18) she says. Although at first Esther feels upset by the lack of connections she has, she loses motivation to even try and explain herself to others. Unlike Mr. Chance in The Cloud Chamber, and Deborah in I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Esther’s mental state does not improve, and she is unable to resolve lost connections. Esther’s mother tells her, “the cure for thinking too much about yourself is helping somebody who is worse off than you” (Plath 161). However, in her case, she’s so disconnected from the people who were once a big part of her life, that she doesn’t know who to reach out to. She doesn’t see herself being capable of maintaining stable and happy relationships with others when she can’t even maintain her own happiness.
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
Sylvia Plath uses this quote in The Bell Jar to show the main character Esther Greenwood struggles. The quote states as followed,“There is something demoralizing about watching two people get more and more crazy about each other, especially when you are the only extra person in the room. It 's like watching Paris from an express caboose heading in the opposite direction--every second the city gets smaller and smaller, only you feel it 's really you getting smaller and smaller and lonelier and lonelier, rushing away from all those lights and excitement at about a million miles an hour”(Plath 110). Plath uses this quote to encapsulate the true feelings of the main character and her struggles with social conformity. It is obvious that Esther Greenwood is directly inspired by Plath herself. The many similarities include their pseudonyms, the absence of a father, their young age, and their high level of intelligence. The only major difference is Esther’s suicide attempt was fortunately unsuccessful while Sylvia Plath’s was unfortunately successful. Plath committed suicide at the age of thirty due to her major struggles of conforming to society. Sylvia Plath In The Bell Jar, the author, Sylvia Plath, uses metaphors, symbolism, and tone to draw attention to the main characters journey through mental illness and her struggle to relate to the feminist expectations of society.
People's lives are shaped through their success and failure in their personal relationships with each other. The author Sylvia Plath demonstrates this in the novel, The Bell Jar. This is the direct result of the loss of support from a loved one, the lack of support and encouragement, and lack of self confidence and insecurity in Esther's life in the The Bell Jar. It was shaped through her success and failures in her personal relationships between others and herself.
The title Girl, Interrupted “Interrupted at her music: as my life had been, interrupted in the music of being seventeen... What life could recover from that?” refers to the painting as she sees it as a distillation of her own experience. Just like the girl in the painting was interrupted so was Susanna and for two years she was unable to live the life that she wanted to. The Bell Jar is a metaphor used by Sylvia Plath to show that Esther is trapped inside her own head and is unable to escape the doubtful and insecure thoughts she has. It is also used as a metaphor for society as people are unable to escape from the expectation which society puts upon them.
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.
It is evident that she is painfully aware of her approaching melancholic depression as evidenced by her opening statement, “I knew something was wrong with me that summer” and later, "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" (Plath, 1971). Throughout the novel, Esther holds the wits and self-awareness to know something is or has been stewing within, while simultaneously having a skewed perception of the world around her. Feelings of helplessness and entrapment are illustrated by the metaphor Esther has created “The bell jar” that suggests she has lost control of herself. Esther describes the bell jar as a symbolic meaning of the lenses in which she see’s life through; a trapped space where she lives in “her own sour air”, separated from the world
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.
To Esther, the world seems quite unfriendly, and the novel documents her desperate search for identity and reassurance. Nevertheless, Esther is intrigued by the world around her, and at the start of the book she is seen with a wondrous outlook on life that is reflected in the metaphors throughout the novel (Coyle). In the first half of the book, Esther is fascinated by the medical practices of her boyfriend, Buddy, as well as by current events in the newspapers and the thought of her own future family. As the story progresses, however, Esther becomes indifferent about life, and she develops bitterness toward everything that appears to prevent her from achieving things she wants (Huf). As Esther’s mental state worsens, the metaphors and similes presented to the reader begin to have negative connotations