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The Bell Jar

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Edward Kang

on 16 January 2015

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Transcript of The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar
Plot Summary
Esther Greenwood's descent into madness
One month internship in New York allows her to live a life of luxury, yet she feels out of place and hopeless about her future
Early symptoms of depression aggravated by her own ambitions contrasting with societal pressures for her to be a mother/wife
Buddy Willard and Esther's Mother
Feelings of displacement grow worse when she returns to the Boston suburbs with her mother; Can't eat, sleep, or read and grows increasingly suicidal
Electroshock therapy fails on her and she attempts to commit suicide
Ends up in a private psychiatric hospital where she gets better through individualizes treatment.
Meets Joan who is a reflection of Esther
Loses virginity but has hemorrhage, breaks free from Buddy
Joan commits suicide
Esther Greenwood
19 Year Old college girl who struggles with mental illness
Pressures to conform to society's traditional values for women inhibit her from easily transitioning into adulthood
Extremely conscious of what other people think of her: "After nineteen years of running after good marks and prizes, and grants of one sort and another, I was letting up, slowing down, dropping clean out of the race." (Plath 29)
Importance of how her environment festered her madness rather than cause it
Mrs. Greenwood
Wants Esther to conform to traditional housewife values
Sees Esther's condition as a temporary, rebellious phase
“I expected to see Doreen’s body lying there in the pool of vomit like an
ugly, concrete
testimony to [her] own
dirty nature
” (Plath 23)
Final Thoughts
by Sylvia Plath
Edward Kang
Period 2
Buddy Willard
Represents 1950s era masculine superiority and moral hypocrisy
wants Esther to be a mother to his children but is ignorant of her passions and sexual interests.
Had a lot of sex with a waitress while they were dating, didn't feel guilty because Esther should view sex as a means to have children rather than pleasure.
Diction 2
Diction 3
"As the fir trees crowded down from the
hills to the road edge, so
green they looked
, I grew gloomier and gloomier." (Plath 83)
"How did I know that someday — at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere — the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn’t descend again?" (Plath 241)
Mrs. North
English II H,
15 January 2015
Sylvia Plath
"It flew straight down from the sky in drops the size of coffee saucers and hit the hot sidewalks with a
that sent clouds of steam
up from the
gleaming, dark
concrete” (41)
Full transcript