The Representation Of The Bell Jar By Sylvia Plath

2036 Words 9 Pages
The Representation of the Bell Jar As long as suffering exists, so too does the search for its explanation. The human urge to romanticize pain explains this pursuit, but mental illness is unfortunately unyielding to simple justifications. In Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar,” protagonist Esther Greenwood struggles with her mental illness in many ways, most of all in finding the strength to understand it. While wrestling with her separation from the world, she explores the ways in which to represent -- as well as cope with -- her tragic descent into depression. Her attempt at reconciliation takes the form of a fixation surrounding the duality of beauty and ugliness in her pain, perceiving dark themes such as suicide to be peaceful. Esther’s desire …show more content…
Esther’s personality combats a stereotypical version of women in her time; the 1950s young woman values the pursuit of finding a husband for whom she can bear children and please by means of chores and sexual submissiveness. Esther breaks this archetype as a young woman with passions in academia as well as a distaste for “the idea of serving men in any way” (76). The bell jar intensifies her inability to connect to the world around her, as she can see her outside surroundings and finds them peculiar. In her eyes, the typical future for a woman “seemed a dreary and wasted life for a girl with fifteen years of straight As” (84), and she acts as a foil to Buddy, who represents the traditional values of this time. Esther is repeatedly unable to relate to Buddy and despite the social pressure to find romance, his advances disillusion her from intimacy with him. She fails to close her eyes during their kiss and finds it “dry [and] uninspiring” (61), despite the fact that Buddy proclaims great excitement from the interaction. Although he demonstrates feelings for her, he also illustrates a continuous desire to change her into a more socially acceptable woman. Buddy pushes the stereotype of the ideal young woman upon Esther to the point that it drives her further into the bell jar. The sexual …show more content…
Depression is not tragically beautiful, nor does it impose a melancholic maturity upon a person. The bell jar acts as a symbol for depression, and threatens to destroy and eventually end Esther’s life. To the victim inside of this bell jar depression, the acts taken to escape it may seem like a fitting and even beautiful end to a life of sorrow, but that is simply an effect of the mental illness’ grasp. As mental illness disrupts the ability to connection to oneself and others, the isolation can cause a distorted perception of the world, the self, and the ways in which to

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