The Bell Jar By Sylvia Plath Essay

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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath relies heavily on shift in tone and topic to portray the ongoing descent into depression that is the basic story arch for the main character Esther Greenwood. Plath employs a large arsenal of techniques to convey the necessary shifts in the novel. One of the most obvious methods is a direct statement of shift by a character. The direct shift is combined with hints through typical behavior, such as crying. Plath also uses contrasting statements both through Esther contrasting with herself and Esther contrasting with societal norms.Sentence and paragraph length variety give clues to the oncoming change in tone or topic. Shift is a central feature in Plath’s novel and is explored in many ways. One of the simplest devices Plath uses to shift the tone of her piece is a direct statement by a character. On several occasions Esther comes right out and says that she, “felt very low.” This shifts the passage from a reminiscent feel to a more dismal take on the scene at hand. Plath uses a similar method throughout the book where she uses conventional symbols of emotion as the initiator of the shift. Esther says that her friend, “must have seen the tears that plopped down into the dessert dish of meringue and brandy ice cream,” as an indication of her transition from the formal banquet setting to a more informal and depressed inner monologue. This method is also used in a transition from a monotonous tone to a happy memory. Esther morphs the overall…

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