This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Esther Greenwood In Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar

1282 words - 5 pages

Sylvia Plath wrote the semi autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, in which the main character, Esther, struggles with depression as she attempts to make herself known as a writer in the 1950’s. She is getting the opportunity to apprentice under a well-known fashion magazine editor, but still cannot find true happiness. She crumbles under her depression due to feeling that she doesn’t fit in, and eventually ends up being put into a mental hospital undergoing electroshock therapy. Still, she describes the depth of her depression as “Wherever I sat - on the deck of a ship or at a street a cafe in Paris or Bangkok - I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air” (Plath 178). The pressure to assimilate to society’s standards from her mother, friends, and romantic interests, almost pushes her over the edge and causes her to attempt suicide multiple times throughout her life. Buddy Willard, Esther’s boyfriend at a time, asks her to marry him repeatedly in which she declines. Her mother tries to get her to marry and makes her go to therapy eventually, which leads to the mental hospital. Esther resents the way of settling down and making a family, as well as going out and partying all night. She just wants to work to become a journalist or publisher. Though, part of her longs for these other lives that she imagines livings, if she were a different person or if different things happened in her life. That’s how Elly Higgenbottom came about. Elly is Esther when Esther doesn’t want to be herself to new people. Esther’s story portrays the role of women in society in the 1950’s through Esther’s family and friends pushing her to conform to the gender roles of the time.

Marriage is a factor that weighs heavily on Esther throughout the novel. Her mother and Buddy both make attempts at getting Esther to settle down. Esther doesn’t want this because she feels she doesn’t deserve it in this life, she’s not in love with Buddy, and she wants to live her life more before marrying and becoming a mother. Buddy tries multiple to get Esther to marry him because marriage was what was expected of a women during that time period. After the enough refusal Buddy gives up on Esther. One day Esther is walking on the beach and she meets a nice prison guard who she believed that “If I’d had the sense to go on living in that old town I might just have met this prison guard in school and married him and had a parcel of kids by now” (Plath 144). Where marriage is a right of passage and possibly comfortable thing for most women in the 50’s Esther feels, “She must mutilate or deform herself through mating, marriage, and motherhood” (Diane S Bonds p. 49-64). Sex only becomes important to her when curiosity gets the better of her from implied peer pressure. She seeks it out, but has no really urge for maintaining a relationship. “That’s one of the reasons I never wanted to get married. The last thing I wanted was infinite security and to be the...

Find Another Essay On Esther Greenwood in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar

Esther’s Role Models in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar

1498 words - 6 pages Esther’s Role Models in The Bell Jar       Throughout Plath’s  novel, The Bell Jar, Esther Greenwood has trouble deciding who she wants to be. Her search for an identity leads her to look at her female role models. These women are not ideal in her eyes. Although they represent a part of what she herself wants to be, Esther finds it impossible to decide which one she is to become. Jay Cee, Mrs. Willard, Philomena Guinea, her mother and

The Blood-Filled Bell Jar: An Examination of Esther/Elly/Elaine Greenwood´s Three Hidden Identities

2246 words - 9 pages focuses too much of her energy on what she does not like about her life instead of the positive things her life possesses, causing the bell jar to shut out reality completely. Esther Greenwood is a very serious, focused individual who slowly descends into a mental illness. She is a disciplined student, receives a college scholarship, wins various awards, and most prestigiously, is one of twelve girls out of thousands, who is accepted into an

Character Analysis of Ester Greenwood in The Bell Jar

965 words - 4 pages In the disturbingly passionate novel, The Bell Jar, Esther Greenwood begins her spiraling journey into madness because of her struggles with trust and preset expectations. Once a small town girl, Esther feels like she is not truly enjoying the experiences New York has to offer her. Knowing that she is very fortunate that her writing skills and exceptional grades have given her this opportunity, Esther desperately tries to be thankful for winning

Did Esther Trap Herself in "The Bell Jar"?

1632 words - 7 pages not be totally reflected as before. It could be predicted that in such society-value was distorted like the bell jar, Esther would be probable to fall into the “crisis of roles” and lost the courage for living again. The novel did not describe Esther’s “new born”, anyhow, the “new born” of the author-Sylvia Plath did not last for a long time. Reference Sylvia Plath (2005). The Bell Jar. Faber and Faber Press

Feminine Identity in The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

3888 words - 16 pages “navy blue, immaculate suits with a plain, snow-white blouse showing in the V of the neck” (234). Esther is particularly impressed by her own psychiatrist, Doctor Nolan, whom she describes as “a cross between Myrna Loy and [her] mother” (187). Indeed, of all the adult women Esther encounters in The Bell Jar, Doctor Nolan is the only one whom she accepts as a role model. While her admiration is no doubt influenced by the psychiatrist’s professional

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: Tangled in Society's Expectations

1867 words - 7 pages social conventions and expectations of women during the 1950’s displayed in The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath correlate to Esther Greenwood’s downward spiral of her mental state. Throughout the course of her journey, Esther becomes increasingly depressed because of her inability to conform to the gender roles of the women, which mainly revolved around marriage, maternity and domesticity. The primitive American culture during the 1950’s has damaging

Sylvia Plath and the Bell Jar

1491 words - 6 pages ). The Bell Jar was Sylvia Plath’s single complete prose work and is an autobiography; however, the novel follows her life’s story under the alternate identity of Esther Greenwood. Due to Plath’s concern about The Bell Jar’s accuracy to her reality, she had it published under the anonym Victoria Lucas, which is just like Esther plans to do in the book. The Bell Jar did not emerge under the name Sylvia Plath until three years after her death in

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

1594 words - 6 pages The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath One is often enticed to read a novel because of the way in which the characters are viewed and the way in which characters view their surroundings. In the novel The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, Esther Greenwood is a character whose "heightened and highly emotional response to events, actions and sentiments" (Assignment sheet) intrigue the reader. One of her character traits is extreme paranoia that is shown in

"The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath

578 words - 2 pages London in spring of 1957. Later Sylvia became a instructor at Smith College in the English department. In April of 1960 thier first child was born and Sylvia's book of poetry was accepted for fall publication by William Heinemann Limited. In January of 1962 their second child was born. In 1962 the 'Bell Jar' was published and in 1963 she ended her life. The Bell Jar had descended again she wrote in her journal.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

1511 words - 6 pages On January 14th of 1963, Sylvia Plath had finally completed The Bell Jar after approximately two years of writing. This novel could have been considered a partial autobiography, because the main character Esther Greenwood eerily represents Sylvia Plath. There are a number of references to Plath’s real life throughout the book, too many for it to be considered a mere coincidence. Within the story, Esther Greenwood considers and attempts suicide

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

1543 words - 6 pages Literature is the superlative resource when one is attempting to comprehend or fathom how society has transformed over the centuries. Many written works—whether fictional or nonfictional—express the views of gender roles and societies’ expectations. Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar is an exemplary novel that explores these issues. Ester Greenwood was portrayed the superficial and oppressive values of the mid-twentieth century American society

Similar Essays

Esther Greenwood Character Analysis In The Bell Jar

1004 words - 4 pages Sylvia Plath’s 1963 novel The Bell Jar remains an autobiographical tale of a teenager who learns that she will never fit in, due to her cynical attitude on life and her slowly fading mental health. Esther Greenwood is introduced as a young woman who appears to be stuck with the wrong type of crowd, as she is an academically sound intellectual. The protagonist appears to be out of place and her life appears to be controlled by outstanding

Identity In Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar

1673 words - 7 pages between her creative world and the outside society. Furthermore, it is Esther's lack of identity that dramatizes the irony and symbolism in the novel. Only when Esther begins to stand outside her own world of the bell jar, does she truly begin to see inside herself.   Works Cited and Consulted: Axelrod, Steven Gould. Sylvia Plath: The Wound and the Cure of Words. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1990. Friedan, Betty. The Feminine

Depression In Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar

1281 words - 5 pages relationship according to Freud has impacted Esther. Esther’s psychological transformation from a perfectly healthy person ends up suffering from depression. Her influences around her have negatively shown Esther a negative path to take. The events during the 1950s such as the Rosenbergs executions have only made the transformation even powerful. Sylvia Plath’s life could be compared to the Bell Jar because she was in the same situation as Esther. Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis and psycho dynamic has addressed depression through the main character Esther. Works Cited (simplypsychology.org) (info.emergencehealthnetwork.org)

Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar Essay

1636 words - 7 pages Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar Depression and suicide are commonly discussed in today’s society; however, in the 1950s, incidents such as suicidal feelings were not mentioned due to being deemed too risqué. Sylvia Plath is well-known for her poetry, yet her prose is equally as noteworthy. According to Frances McCullough, The Bell Jar is a “pre-drugs, pre-Pill, pre-Women’s Studies” (Plath xiii) novel, which focuses on weighty issues which