The Representation Of The Bell Jar Essay

2036 Words Dec 7th, 2016 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 to express her mental illness conjures the image of the bell jar, a suffocating symbol that causes her to aestheticize suicide and death in her struggle for cognitive clarity. The interior of the bell jar acts as a forceful obligation of introspectiveness and internal solitary confinement. In this captivity, Esther must face herself, a difficult task for an individual whose depression is accompanied by self-loathing and criticism. Her efforts to reconcile these intense emotions are fruitless, as she blames her pain on her multiple inadequacies. Creating a list of her perceived failures, Esther laments that she can’t cook, use shorthand, dance, ride a horse, ski, speak multiple languages, balance, or point out all the countries on a…

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