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The Bell Jar Analysis

1761 words - 7 pages

Esther Greenwood, the protagonist of The Bell Jar by Silvia Plath, is cast under the spell of her own depression and the story of being released from the spell follows the structure of one of the 7 plot types Christopher Booker created. These 7 plot archetypes include the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, and lastly the archetype of Rebirth. The novel The Bell Jar is classified as the Rebirth plot, in accordance with the 5 stages that make up said archetype: The Falling Stage, Recession Stage, Imprisonment Stage, Nightmare Stage, and The Rebirth Stage. Readers follow Esther as she pulls herself through the stages, through the falling, the rising, and the falling once more, until she reaches the goal of being freed from the spell of her depression and has been reborn.
The first stage of the Rebirth archetype is the “Falling Stage”. According to TvTropes.com, this stage is the beginning of the story when the protagonist first falls under the evil spell. In The Bell Jar, Esther’s spell, which is her depression, is cast during her time in New York while on a scholarship. She doesn’t want to spend time with any of the other girls on the scholarship, go to parties, or even leave the hotel room she stays in. The only person who can reach her is her friend Doreen who eventually stops seeing Esther because of her boyfriend. Although she chooses to be alone, Esther does not enjoy the solitude. Esther describes her lonesomeness like being at the center of a tornado. She says, “I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo,” (Plath 7). Another factor that builds Esther’s imprisonment is that she refuses to reinforce the common ideas of what a woman should be. Esther is convinced that society believes women should only want 2 things: motherhood and a successful man to get them there. Although Esther has found a man who people look at as “perfect husband material,” she thinks of him as a hypocrite because while he expected her to remain a virgin until marriage, he had an affair while dating Esther. He also took her to see a baby being born. Instead of seeing this event and agreeing that it was a wonderful display of life, she describes the women to “have nothing but an enormous spider-fat stomach and two ugly spindly legs propped in the stirrups,”(Plath 65). Others expect Esther to see the event as her future, but her disgusted reaction shows the readers just how much she hates the idea of motherhood. During this stage in the novel, Esther’s depression has begun, but not quite at full force. Before that must happen, Esther will go through a time of quiet before the monster comes back and gives her a taste of death, instead of new life.
After the spell has made itself known, it recedes into the shadows just long enough for the protagonist to let their guard down. This is called the Recession stage (TvTropes.com). In this...

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