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Did Esther Trap Herself In "The Bell Jar"?

1632 words - 7 pages

The Bell Jar is an autobiography of a female sophomore. The girl-Esther, who is 19 years old, came from suburban area of Boston. As she had talent writing skills, she was invited to New York to serve as guest editor in a national fashion magazine office. In her one-month stay in New York, on one hand, Esther was cautious and conscientious to learn from an able and efficient female editor-Jay Cee, and she dreamt to follow Jay Cee’s successful step. On the other hand, she met various men and women in her colorful social life. These experiences reminded her of her life in women’s university, especially her relationship with her boyfriend- Buddy Willard. As the recollection often interweaved with reality, they brought Esther perplexity, discouragement and lost. Esther could not even more figure out the significance of reality as well as the goal of her own life. When her life in New York came to an end, Esther came back her hometown to spend the summer vacation with her mother. However, a new incident hard hit Esther- she was rejected by the writing course that she was given high expectation by professors in her university. The conservative atmosphere in the town made Esther feel days wear on like years. Esther denied completely that all achievements she got in past 19 years, and she even felt doubtful and terrified toward the future. Facing such heavy pressure, she was broken down totally. Since she was lost at that time, she tried to put an end to her life. After she was saved, she received psychological consultation in a psychiatric hospital. In this period, she rethought and relocated her position, and she rebuilt confidence step by step. At the end of the novel, Esther waited to leave hospital and she looked forward to starting a brand new life.

Personally, I think Esther was placed inside a “bell jar” by the societal pressures of her day. The setting of The Bell Jar was New York and Boston in 1953 summer, and we can see from the beginning of the novel that Esther’s value orientation was totally different from 1950s’ of American society. Thousands of teenagers long for American dream because they hope to change their poor life by working hard. Esther succeeded in her study since she was young, and her talent as well as industriousness won her a lot of praise and scholarship. These made Esther, who was short of money, got various enviable chances-paid practical training in the New York famous magazine office was just one of her latest achievements. We can say that Esther’s life was absolutely the best interpretation of American dream. However, to Esther, she could not feel the significance of realization of American dream, and she could not react as what others expected, either. At that time, most American would deem her symbol of success of having one-month busy activities and various presents. However, Esther could not link her achievements on study to the successful image that the society set for women. In a word, Esther did not know what...

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