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The Rosenbergs in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar

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Madeline Burke

on 5 December 2012

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Transcript of The Rosenbergs in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar

a study of historical events Objectives/Guiding Questions Historical Events Why is this important? Effect of Rosenbergs on Esther - Sylvia Plath included mention of the Rosenbergs to draw on feelings of tension and negativity
- impacts Esther as a character
-falls into disrepair because she cannot adhere to society's view - Who are Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and what is their story?

- Why does Sylvia Plath include mention of the Rosenbergs in The Bell Jar? - Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, both New York natives, met in 1936
- Julius was a leader in the Young Communist League
- Julius worked in the Army Signal Corps; Ethel was an aspiring singer/actress
- became full members in the American Communist Party, later dropped out to pursue espionage
- 1945, Julius was fired from the Signal Corps - Sylvia Plath mentions the Rosenbergs' electrocutions in The Bell Jar (pg. 1-2, pg. 100)
- summer 1953; "all there was to read in the papers;" controversy
- OJ Simpson trial, Ryan Widmer trial
- sets the scene
- general aura of controversy and betrayal, negativity-homeplace of Rosenbergs
- characterizes Esther Greenwood
- foreshadows Esther's obsession with death
- left an impression on Esther - sympathizes with Rosenbergs; pg. 1
- identifies with the horror of being burned alive
- struggling to fit in; pg. 100
- conversation with Hilda
- hopes of finding friendliness and acceptance
- does not find acceptance; finds inhumane point-of-view; impacts view of society Conclusion The Rosenbergs in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar - 1950, Ethel's younger brother, Sgt. David Greenglass, turned the couple in for espionage activities
- hugely controversial, public opinion was strong in both directions
- time period was beginning of Cold War, relations with the Soviet Union were tense - Klaus Fuchs and Harry Gold were arrested and confessed, were scientists who leaked information concerning the atomic bomb
- David Greenglass was brought in, identified Julius and Ethel Rosenberg as spies
- Greenglass was working in Los Alamos Laboratory
- built for use of the Manhattan Project
- Julius asked Greenglass for design plans of atomic bomb
- accused of secretly delivering these plans to Soviet contacts
- Morton Sobell, an old friend, arrested for assisting the spy ring Background Crimes - Ethel's role lacked evidence
- used to threaten husband
- possibly typed notes containing U.S. secrets and relayed them to Soviets
- role of dutiful wife?
- Julius denied all accusations
- nonchalant
- judge blamed the Rosenbergs on the deaths of Koreans killed by Communist aggression
- sentenced to death by electric chair
-controversy of death penalty Trials
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