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The Bell Jar By Plath Essay

1625 words - 7 pages

"If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I'm neurotic as hell. I'll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days" (Plath). Plath was in fact a schizophrenic, never really being cured and only receiving temporarily relief from her own mind with electroshock therapy. Her novel, The Bell Jar, is almost a self-biography with the veil of fiction over the story of Plath’s own life being so thin that her mother fought its publication (McCann 1631). Nevertheless, Plath’s immense hard work paid off and it was published. Writing was Plath’s passion and when she wrote, her life became an enthralling story. Sylvia Plath’s late teenage years, time right after college, and time in the mental hospital were all influential in writing The Bell Jar.

Being recognized as gifted in writing early on, Plath put all of her energy into this subject by becoming editor of her school’s newspaper and submitting over forty five articles to Seventeen Magazine before finally becoming published. Plath was a perfectionist when it came to writing. In college, the intense pressure of trying to maintain her scholarship and perfect grades started to get to her. She even wrote to her mother saying “I have practically considered committing suicide to get out of it [a science course] (qtd. in Malmsheimer 530). She also felt pressured as to what she would do with her life after college. “Her brilliance and accomplishments have no power to lead her to a place in the world. Instead, they drive her out of it” (Allen 400). As noted by Novels for Students, Part of Plath's frustration lay in what she perceived as a choice between becoming a free-spirited poet or choosing the wife/mother alternative (The Bell).

Esther Greenwood does dramatically register her disgust for how she is supposed to live and how she is supposed to look, which is perhaps the most overwhelming fact of herself a woman must cope with (Allen 396). She had ideas of her own such as becoming a famous poet or even becoming an editor and did not want to drop all of it for a man. She was told that "what a man wants is a mate and what a woman wants is infinite security. What a man is is an arrow into the future and what a woman is is the place the arrow shoots off from" (Plath 70). However, she was completely against this idea of what a woman should be. Esther just wanted to focus on her grades, because that was all that she thought she excelled in.

During the summer of 1953, Plath was awarded the prestigious position as guest editor of Mademoiselle Magazine in New York City. "Despite the numerous frills her expense account afforded her—living at the Barbizon Hotel, expensive meals, meeting celebrities—Plath found the overall experience to be artificial" (The Bell). In her letters home, it is apparent that New York came as a shock to her, and she desired to retreat from “these slick admen, these hucksters” and the “breathless...

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