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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 quite frequently. Could this novel have been foreshadowing Sylvia’s death, which took place a little less than a month after?
Esther Greenwood was a scholarship student attending an all-women’s college in New York. While in school, she wrote for a women’s magazine under the supervision of her editor Jay Cee. Writing was her passion and she especially loved poetry. Unfortunately, the college life and New York City were not exactly what Esther had thought they would be. She always found herself being a third wheel or the outsider of the group. This may have been the spark that began her battle with depression. Either that, or the realization that her childhood crush Buddy Willard, a medical student at Yale, was a hypocrite. He and Esther had known each other since a very young age through the church and their parents had intended for them to eventually be married. After Buddy invited Esther to attend Yale’s prom, they began spending a lot of time together until she found out that he had lost his virginity to a sleazy waitress. This contradicted everything Buddy was and had claimed to be. His whole good and pure act was flawed whenever Esther discovered these facts. She was especially hurt, because they were very competitive with each other and she now wanted to lose her virginity so as to not be inferior to him.
Dying to get a taste of New York on her last night, Esther begrudgingly agreed to a blind date with Doreen and Lenny, her boyfriend. They had decided to set Esther up with Marco. Esther said, “I could tell Marco was a woman-hater, because in spite of all the models and TV starlets in the room that night he paid attention to nobody but me. Not out of kindness or even curiosity, but because I’d happened to be dealt to him, like a playing card in a pack of identical cards.” (Plath, 106) Her assumption regarding Marco happened to be dead on. Before the night had come to an end, he attacked her shoving her into the mud, ripping her dress, and pinning her down in an attempt to rape her. She barely made it out by punching him in the face and breaking his nose.
The next morning, Esther returned home to her mother in Boston only to find that she had not been accepted into the summer writing course that she had wanted to attend. Heartbroken and depressed, Esther no longer knew what to do with her life. Her family doctor sent her to a psychiatrist, because she was having trouble reading, writing, and sleeping. She described herself as feeling trapped inside of a bell jar. The psychiatrist was no help to her...

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