Sylvia Plath Essay

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Sylvia Plath was a troubled writer to say the least, not only did she endure the loss of her father a young age but she later on “attempted suicide at her home and was hospitalized, where she underwent psychiatric treatment” for her depression (Dunn). Writing primarily as a poet, she only ever wrote a single novel, The Bell Jar. This fictional autobiography “[chronicles] the circumstances of her mental collapse and subsequent suicide attempt” but from the viewpoint of the fictional protagonist, Esther Greenwood, who suffers the same loss and challenges as Plath (Allen 890). Due to the novel’s strong resemblance to Plath’s own history it was published under the pseudonym “Victoria Lucas”. In The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath expresses the …show more content…
The pain and trauma that stem from Esther’s illness have warped her view of the world around her. However, this symbol also represents the pressures put on women in the 1950s to be what was considered ideal for women during this era. The bell jar “suggests more than Esther’s inner alienated world”, it also “signifies society which destroys Esther” and “symbolizes ‘scientific punishment’ for non-conformists” (Evans 105). She “must combat the additional alienation of being an aspiring woman in an era of strict limitations for women” which only hinders her further from her goals in life (Axelrod). While many women at the time planned on marrying and settling down, Esther does not view these expectations for women in the same way and instead wishes to be her own independent person. While working as the guest editor of Mademoiselle, a fashion magazine, Esther “suffocates under the bell jar forced on her by a competitive, male-oriented society”(Evans 105). During the fifties women were not expected to have successful careers in general and the male dominant world held a high level of competition; while trying to come out on top in this society Esther ends up cracking under the intense pressure. Representing both the stifling social limits set on women and the protagonist’s dismal mental state, the bell jar is a robust symbol in this novel. Using an atypical heroine, Plath adroitly

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