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Kayla Anderson has commented on (2) products.

Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Bell Jar

Kayla Anderson, April 3, 2014

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath follows the heart wrenching story of a young woman’s battle with depression. This novel is a must read as Plath’s use of characterization and symbolism bring the story to life. Overall, The Bell Jar is a timeless novel that comments on the idea of freedom through suffering.

Life for young women in the 1950s sets the stage for this emotional novel of one girls bouts with insanity and thoughts of suicide. Women in this time period were just coming around to having lives outside of the home, such as having careers, other than being secretaries and teachers. Along with the upcoming freedom women were beginning to experience, this novel is semi-autobiographical of the life of Sylvia Plath as well. The plot of The Bell Jar mirrors Plath’s own life events such as interning at a magazine in New York City, developing depression and attempting suicide. Overall, realizing that this novel details parts of Sylvia Plath’s own life helps the reader to understand that the thoughts of Esther Greenwood are, in fact, the thoughts of a mentally unstable person.

The characterization, symbols, and themes in The Bell Jar make this novel timeless. Esther Greenwood is the protagonist and narrator of the story. Since the novel is told from first person point of view the readers are able to be inside of Esther’s head and witness her slow mental deterioration. The characterization of Esther having low self confidence and believing that she had been “inadequate all along” (72), even though she comes from a normal family and has way above average grades, points out to the readers that depression can plague anyone. Furthermore, the descriptions Esther uses to explain why she wants to kill herself are chilling. Esther explains that “It was as if what [she] wanted to kill wasn’t in that skin or the thin blue pulse that jumped under [her] thumb, but somewhere else, deeper, more secret, and a whole lot harder to get at” (142). Overall, she doesn’t want to die, but she wants to be rid of the part of her that is filled with this insanity. In addition, the symbolism helps with Esther’s characterization because she feels that she is trapped inside a bell jar, she is confined in an airless vacuum that she is unable to escape from. Esther’s peace only comes when “All the heat and fear had purged itself” (206) and “The bell jar hung, suspended, a few feet above [her] head. [She] was open to the circulating air” (206). Even though Esther is freed from the bell jar she knows that it is still there waiting to descend and make “the world itself...a bad dream” (227) again. Esther has a constant battle with herself for freedom in The Bell Jar, this fight of freedom through suffering is the underlying theme that envelopes the entire novel. Plath continually comments on the fact that to be free in life, one must suffer first. However, Plath brings her novel to an uplifting ending as Esther’s suffering comes to an end and she is “perfectly free” (232).

All of these literary elements come together to make The Bell Jar an everlasting story. This novel is eternal because Esther is an ordinary young woman who is struck with depression at the height of her youth. Her story could be placed in any setting and any time period yet still achieve the same effects. Plath’s control of the literary elements of characterization and point of view pull the readers into the novel by allowing them to witness Esther’s downward spiral into the pits of insanity. In my opinion, The Bell Jar achieves its ultimate goal of revealing the horrifying truth that mental illness is not solely for the weak or disadvantaged, it can happen to anyone.

Altogether, Sylvia Plath has written a timeless novel that utilizes characterization and symbolism to comment on the theme that in order to reach freedom, one must suffer first. The Bell Jar is an ultimate must read because it is raw, chilling and realistic. Overall, the larger point that Plath is trying to comment on in The Bell Jar is the idea that insanity doesn’t prey on the deprived.
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The Bell Jar (P.S.) by Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar (P.S.)

Kayla Anderson, March 14, 2014

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath follows the heart wrenching story of a young woman’s battle with depression. This novel is a must read as Plath’s use of characterization and symbolism bring the story to life. Overall, The Bell Jar is a timeless novel that comments on the idea of freedom through suffering.

Life for young women in the 1950s sets the stage for this emotional novel of one girls bouts with insanity and thoughts of suicide. Women in this time period were just coming around to having lives outside of the home, such as having careers, other than being secretaries and teachers. Along with the upcoming freedom women were beginning to experience, this novel is semi-autobiographical of the life of Sylvia Plath as well. The plot of The Bell Jar mirrors Plath’s own life events such as interning at a magazine in New York City, developing depression and attempting suicide. Overall, realizing that this novel details parts of Sylvia Plath’s own life helps the reader to understand that the thoughts of Esther Greenwood are, in fact, the thoughts of a mentally unstable person.

The characterization, symbols, and themes in The Bell Jar make this novel timeless. Esther Greenwood is the protagonist and narrator of the story. Since the novel is told from first person point of view the readers are able to be inside of Esther’s head and witness her slow mental deterioration. The characterization of Esther having low self confidence and believing that she had been “inadequate all along” (72), even though she comes from a normal family and has way above average grades, points out to the readers that depression can plague anyone. Furthermore, the descriptions Esther uses to explain why she wants to kill herself are chilling. Esther explains that “It was as if what [she] wanted to kill wasn’t in that skin or the thin blue pulse that jumped under [her] thumb, but somewhere else, deeper, more secret, and a whole lot harder to get at” (142). Overall, she does not want to die, but she wants to be rid of the part of her that is filled with this insanity. In addition, the symbolism helps with Esther’s characterization because she feels that she is trapped inside a bell jar, she is confined in an airless vacuum that she is unable to escape from. Esther’s peace only comes when “All the heat and fear had purged itself” (206) and “The bell jar hung, suspended, a few feet above [her] head. [She] was open to the circulating air” (206). Even though Esther is freed from the bell jar she knows that it is still there waiting to descend and make “the world itself...a bad dream” (227) again. Esther has a constant battle with herself for freedom in The Bell Jar, this fight for freedom through suffering is the underlying theme that envelopes the entire novel. Plath continually comments on the fact that to be free in life, one must suffer first. However, Plath brings her novel to an uplifting ending as Esther’s suffering comes to an end and she is “perfectly free” (232).

All of these literary elements come together to make The Bell Jar an everlasting story. This novel is eternal because Esther is an ordinary young woman who is struck with depression at the height of her youth. Her story could be placed in any setting and any time period yet still achieve the same effects. Plath’s control of the literary elements of characterization and point of view pull the readers into the novel by allowing them to witness Esther’s downward spiral into the pits of insanity. In my opinion, The Bell Jar achieves its ultimate goal of revealing the horrifying truth that mental illness is not solely for the weak or disadvantaged, it can happen to anyone.

Altogether, Sylvia Plath has written a timeless novel that utilizes characterization and symbolism to comment on the theme that in order to reach freedom, one must suffer first. The Bell Jar is an ultimate must read because it is raw, chilling and realistic. Overall, the larger point that Plath is trying to comment on in The Bell Jar is the idea that insanity does not prey on the deprived.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No



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