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The Bell Jar

Analysis of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Candy Martinez

on 14 January 2013

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Transcript of The Bell Jar

Timeline 2013 2009 2010 2011 2012 0 + - = 9 8 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 c About the Time Period The Good Wife's Guide
Ideal responsibilities were housekeeping and raising a family
continued..... Setting Within a six month period in Esther Greenwood’s life
The year is 1953
Begins in the Summer in New York while she is living in an all female hotel carrying out her internship
Spends some time with Buddy who is in Medical School at Yale
Later, she returns to suburbs in Boston, to her home
She travels to Walton, Massachusetts to get shock therapy
Tone Apathetic- lack of energy
Cynical- continuous judgment of others
Caustic- excessive use of sarcasm
Pessimistic- hopeless view on life
Scholarly- clear and expressive
Figurative Language “I felt very still and very empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.”
“The pillow cracked like a wad of straw”
“I crawled between the mattress and the padded bedspread and let the mattress fall across me like a tombstone.”
“I saw a shark's teeth and whales' bones littered about down there like gravestones.”
Symbols The Bell Jar- She is trapped by time, by her mental illness, by her gender and by society
The Fig Tree- signifies the different paths that her life could have taken & everything she could have become
Facilities like the mentally ill hospital- these people are excluded from the rest of the world just like she is Works Cited Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar. New York: Harper & Row, 1971. Print.
"Review of The Bell Jar (P.S.) by Sylvia Plath | Revish." Book Reviews - read, review, share at Revish!. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Jan. 2013. 
Background info about the author - Born in 1932
-Was a model
-Father died when
she was 8 years old
-Won a scholarship
to Smith College
-Attempted suicide
several times
-Primarily a poet
-Ended up marrying Ted Hughes and had two children with him
- Marriage with Hughes disintegrated
- Committed Suicide at the age of 30 Esther Greenwood- protagonist, highly intelligent, struggles with depression and the constant doubt in herself, not being able to conform to society about being the stereotypical woman because of her want to succeed in her career, set back by her existence in time because shock therapy was given as treatment for depression, which she hated, also, her relationship with men prove to be failures, one after another
Mrs. Greenwood- Esther’s mother, main problem is using passive aggressive techniques in parenting, both angering and depreciating Esther, however, it is beyond clear that Mrs. Greenwood cares for and loves Esther, though she does not understand her
Buddy Willard- Esther’s college boyfriend, can’t seem to figure out why all of his relationships turn to dust, he is the perfect package, except for his presumptuous attitude, he is what society says Esther should want
Doreen- Esther’s friend in New York, Esther is jealous of Doreen’s smoothness and lack of concern for society’s views of her, represents social rebellion
Joan- Esther’s friend in the mental institution, also used to date Buddy, she is almost an exact replica of Esther, they’ve passed through extremely similar situations The Bell Jar
Sylvia Plath
Candy Martinez
3rd Period
December 30, 2012 Characters Themes Feminism
Conformity to social stigma
Stability in parents
Hysteria-mental problems
Plot Esther, 19 years old, has an academic scholarship and is currently working at for a magazine, ultimately, has a bright future ahead of her. However, she often feels out of place and isolated from society because she doesn’t share the same views about what a woman should be, and has low self esteem. She often struggles with the thought that a man is allowed to pursue his dreams and build a family while a woman has to be at home with the children waiting for him to come home. Esther eventually leaves New York with decreased ambition and uncertainty in herself. She has flashbacks to her relationship with Buddy Willard, whom Esther used to regard as a god. However, she later finds out that Buddy is not all that he said he was, and Esther’s image of him disintegrates. When Buddy proposes to her, she rejects quickly and hesitates not to laugh. After several suicidal attempts, after finding out she was rejected into a summer writing program as well as other upsetting news, she is admitted into a home for the mentally ill. Joan, Esther’s friend from the institution eventually commits suicide but Esther’s condition improves. The ending is abrupt as Esther enters the interview which will determine if she is ready to leave the institution.
1950's Women were not regarded in any way as equal to a man
Life was all about building a family
cold war put a lot of stress on the American Household
being single was looked down on
depression was not looked at as serious
modern medicine was not around for depression
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