Esther Greenwood In Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar

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Most people have, at one point or another, become so frustrated that they use a phrase along the lines of “I’m losing my mind.” While used as more a figure of speech than as a confession of legitimate mental instability, this commonly used phrase expresses a shared belief amongst Western culture that stress and frustration may very well cause an individual to experience a mental break. Esther Greenwood, the protagonist living in the 1950s America of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, cracks under societal pressures to be the ideally docile, subservient, thoughtless woman, and becomes so dissociated with her life that she attempts suicide, eventually rehabilitated by electric shock therapy and sent back out into the world with a semi-reluctant sense of…show more content…
The deviation from the main plot to present several smaller, self-contained storylines mirrors the tendency of Advanced Placement texts to contain a variety of subplots, while taking this one step further in complexity by making the subplots all belong to a single, multifaceted character. Each anecdote expresses a certain idea that Esther desires the readers to know at that particular moment, one that will contribute to their understanding of her overarching story. Since the story is so deeply personal, mirroring Plath’s own journey through depression, Plath tells a story shared by herself, Esther, and so many other women throughout history in a poetic, fluent style of writing. Esther’s dejected, emotionless look at the events surrounding her demonstrates Plath’s understanding of “what it means to work in medium where black is the only color” (Scholes), and is unique in the sense that few novels tackle an issue as sensitive as mental health while using a first person point of view of an afflicted

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