The Bell Jar A Minor Character Essay

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Regarded by some critics and readers of the novel The Bell Jar a minor character, Joan Gilling represents and allows for a number of different thoughts and realizations in relation to the novel’s main character, Esther Greenwood. Joan’s presence in Esther’s life is as so much more than a rival for Buddy Willard’s affections. It is through Joan that Esther learns to help herself; it is through Joan’s suicide that Esther decides that she does not want to become another life wasted, which allows Esther to understand that she wants to beat her depression. This in turn leads to Esther’s leaving the insane asylum, and getting married and having children later in life. Joan’s desire to not only be like Esther, but to be Esther, ultimately led to her death; however, she still played a very significant role in Esther’s character development with The Bell Jar.
Joan and Esther represent the two most complex characters in The Bell Jar and share many similarities. Both attended a prestigious women’s college; both are intelligent and accomplished women; both come from the same hometown; both have self-destructive and suicidal tendencies (Plath 59). They both come to despise Buddy for similar reasons. Esther describes Joan as “the beaming double of my old best self” (Plath 205). While both are ambitious, Joan exemplifies this and does not feign femininity to please men, like Esther. Relative to her attitude towards most of the female characters in the novel, Esther is uncertain toward…

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