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The Bell Jar

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alex muscalus

on 24 May 2011

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Transcript of The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar Prezi by Alex Muscalus The Story Slyvia Plath Esther Greenwood, an intelligent college student, is invited by a magazine to explore journalism and New York City’s perks with a select group of young ladies. Although her peers become enthralled in the glamorous lifestyle, she finds herself oddly incapable of attaining happiness. Esther fosters suffocating depression and cynicism, feeling increasingly detached from society and reality. Upon returning home, her condition worsens, the growing sense of hopeless isolation culminating in an attempted suicide. Consequently, she is admitted to an asylum, where she lives alongside patients of numerous mental illnesses. Only after trusting a compassionate doctor does she progress to recovery. The Author most famous for her hundreds of poems and short stories
highly honored with many awards and much recognition, most notably the Putlizer prize for poetry in 1882
most famous works: "Ariel," a collection of poems, and "The Bell Jar," her only novel
("Silvia Plath Biography") Writing Silvia Plath: 1932 - 1963 julielomoe.wordpress.com sylviaplathinfo.blogspot.com sylviaplathinfo.blogspot.com dublinlibrary.wordpress.com Life "The Bell Jar" - essentially her autobiography through the end of her illness
Born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
Published first poem at the age of 8
Smith College and Cambridge University, both on scholarships
won apprenticeship at a fashion magazine in NYC before suffering severe mental breakdown, as told in the novel
married Ted Hughes, an English poet, and had 2 children
marraige failed 2 years after their first child was born
when mental problems resurfaced, committed suicide at age 30
("Sylvia Plath (1932 - 1963) Short Biography") Characteristics intelligent, excellent student
hardworking perfectionist
struggled with feelings of anger, grief and guilt after her father's death when she was 8
plagued by uncertainty towards life and reality
sensitive, prone to mental breakdown, and depressed
used writing to deal with her emotions, pain, and mental illnesses
("Sylvia Plath Biography") buybackcollegebooks.org mentalhelp.net http://www.theoriginof.com/typewriter.html hcap.artstor.org schoolworkhelper.net thewitcontinuum.wordpress.com ocaladivorcehelp.com The bell jar, with its stagnant air and curved glass, is the novel's most prominent symbol. It is used to describe Esther's mental illness as a inescapable, suffocating trap that leaves her detached from life and viewing a distorted reality. The Time & Its Influence The Theme The early 1950s Confessional Poetry Society's Strict Expectations for Women Major Literary Movement of the 1950s Women are unable to fully attain the American Dream in a society that ignores their individualism. Plath well known as a confessional poet
novel takes on the style of her poetry lexizhere.wordpress.com emerged in 1950s
popular only through the 60s, but still present today
(Byrne) But "The Bell Jar" isn't a poem... Time of
Literary Movement Characteristics kburks2293.glogster.com "poetry of the personal"
autobiographical narration
private feelings & experiences
expose author's faults & frailities
idistinguish poets as separate, unique individuals
(Byrne) squamatareport.blogspot.com Common Topics marriage infidelities
personal failures
mental health breakdowns
psychological anguish
feelings about death
depression & suicide
traumatic experiences
sexuality
relationships
("A Brief Guide to Confessional Poetry") bookofjoe.com alphakilo.net sophia.smith.edu The Nuclear Family Cold War propoganda: nuclear family makes Americans superior to Communists
communist Russian women depicted as poor, drab factory workers who left their children in cold, anonymous daycare centers
versus American women: happy, well-dressed, feminine hairdos, happily doing housework, caring for children, enjoying democracy and capitalism (perfect TV family)
huge pressure on women to marry young
marraige more important than college degree
if woman not engaged or married by early 20s, at risk of becoming "old maid" of society
("Women's Role in the 1950s") telegraph.co.uk chapelhillmemories.com vintagegown.com stumbleupon.com 3 Types of 50s Women Good Married young
pretty and fashionable
perfect wife to serve husband
housework
raised perfect children
ideally, didn't work (considered selfish to work instead of staying home with children)
if working: job served men (secretaries) Bad scandalous
sexy, seductive
revealing clothing
premarital sex & pregnancy
rebellious
drugs
Marilyn Monroe types "Doomed" intelligent and studious
education a top priority
didn't focus on relationships and finding a husband
doomed to be "old maids" - librarians, secretaries, social workers
rejected as women by society women classified by relationships to society and men
individualism and personality unimportant
("Women's Roles in the 1950s") millionlooks.com thehubbydiaries.wordpress.com germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org Birth Control largely unavailable in the early 50s
women afraid of becoming pregnant because of society's judgement
women felt restricted by the risk of pregnancy
women jealous of the sexual freedom of men
("Women's Roles in the 1950s") (cultural influence) (major literary movement) personal failure: Esther not get accepted into a prestigious writing program
mental health breakdowns: worsening mental breakdown leads to Esther's suicide attempt and admittance into mental hospital
psychological anguish: Esther tormented by her "bell jar" sense of detachment
feelings about death: Esther frequently relates everyday occurances to death, fantasizes about suicide
depression and suicide: both prominent parts of Esther's mental illness
traumatic experiences: Esther's father's early death, her mental illness, inhumane shock treatments to try to treat illness
sexuality: Esther's anxiety about losing her virginity, her friend (at the psych ward)'s lesbian activities
relationships: Esther disappointed in several unsatifisying relationships that don't live up to her expectations Confessional Poetry Topics in the Novel Plath's autobiographical novel demonstrates all of these characteristics novel's setting: 1953 - 1954
autobiographical- actual events in Plath's life occured during these years Time of Novel Esther wants to lose her virginity, but afraid of pregnancy & social consequences
wants the sexual freedom that men have
towards the end of the novel, sees a doctor for a new contraceptive device & loses virginity Esther's Desire to be an Individual frustrated with the pressure society puts on her to raise the perfect family
recognizes that she is intelligent, but fears becoming an "old maid"
wants good relationships with men, solid morals, and a future utilizing her intelligence
attempts to combine all three types to express her individuality
afraid of society's reaction, so frequently creates new identies with strangers (making up names, histories, careers, personalities)
confused identity may be source of mental illness Esther's Fear of Pregnancy Betsy: "Good"
Esther's friend while working with the magazine in New York
pretty but dressed modestly
wholesome, respectable, good morals
optimistic & cheerful
conforms to society's expectations Doreen: "Bad"
Esther's friend while working with the magazine in New York
love partying, flirting, and sex
sexy, beautiful, and dressed to impress
rebellious, cynical attitude Jay Cee: "Doomed"
Esther's boss and supervisor at the magazine
intelligent, insightful, and kind
unattractive
strange, "awful"-looking clothing
in a boring relationship with an equally unattractive man
rejected by society and ridiculed "Look what can happen in this country, they'd say. A girl lives in some out-of-the-way town for nineteen years, so poor she can't afford a magazine, and then she gets a scholarship to college and wins a prize here and a prize there and ends up steering New York like her own private car... Only I wasn't steering anything, not even myself. I just bumped from my hotel to work and to parties and from parties...like a numb trolleybus. I guess I should have been excited...but I just couldn't get myself to react (Plath 3)." by society's standards, the US has given Esther the American Dream, everything she could ever want
Esther rejects these standards, refusing to fit the mold of the ideal life for a young woman
instead of enjoying the parties and expensive lifestyle, she is unexcited and feels pushed around
her individualism -and preference for a less formal lifestyle- is ignored by those around her
she is unable to attain the true "American Dream," which believes in the triumph of the individual "...they [other women with the magazine] had just graduated from places like Katy Gibbs and were secretaries to executives and junior executives and simply hanging around in New York waiting to get married to some career man or other. These girls looked awfully bored to me. I saw them on the sunroof, yawning and painting their nails and trying to keep up with their Bermuda tans, and they seemed bored as hell. ...bored with yachts and bored with flying around in airplanes and bored with skiing in Switzerland at Christmas and bored with the men in Brazil (Plath 4)." the secretaries fit the stereotype of the perfect working woman in the 1950s (not persuing further education, serving men, occupying themselves with beauty)
they are forced into this role by society's classification and molding of women, which strips them of individuality
they are bored and unhappy with their "perfect" lives, and thus cannot attain the American Dream, which promises the triumph of the individual, optimism, and happiness "...she [Buddy Williard's mother] wanted me to marry Buddy, who was taking the cure for TB somewhere in upper New York State. Buddy's mother had even arranged for me to be given a job as a waitress at the TB sanatorium that summer so Buddy wouldn't be lonely. She and Buddy couldn't understand why I chose to go to New York City instead (Plath 19)." Buddy's mother attempts to mold Esther into the ideal wife for her son
Esther is to be dedicated to Buddy, giving up her education and personal dreams to ensure that he is never lonely
Esther does not love Buddy and has no intention of marrying him (information previously provided about the relationship)
she wants to be an individual and chase her own dreams, and has the courage to do so
she rejects Mrs. Williard's plans, and society's expectations of her so that she may attain the happiness in her personalized "American Dream" *a description of "the times" is given under the "The Time & its Influence" picturesof.net flickr.com flickr.com Esther rejects the plans for her life that society, specifically Mrs. Williard, has laid out for her. Many women who conform to the "molds" of society are bored and unhappy. Esthe is being pushed around by society's expectations of her, but is finding no enjoyment in the ride. "From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another was a famous poet and another was a brilliant professor...and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America...and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion... I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which one of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them...and as I sat there, unable to decide, the fits began to wrinkle and go black... (Plath 77)." Esther tries to sort through the options, or molds, society has laid out for her
because individuality is unimportant, she must fit just one of these futures perfectly
as she tries to ignore many of her personal preferences in order to chose a future, she finds herself wasting time and options
she can never attain her American Dream in a position like this, and will instead be forced into a boring future deemed acceptable by society reflectionsintheworld.org Esther is forced to chose a future from a very limited number of options society offers her, thus forcing her to abandon individuality, and her American Dream.
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