I was supposed to be having the time of my life. When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther's life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiralling into depression and eventually a suicide attempt, as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take women's aspirations seriously. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath's only novel, was originally published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The novel is partially based on Plath's own life and descent into mental illness, and has become a modern classic. The Bell Jar has been celebrated for its darkly funny and razor sharp portrait of 1950s society and has sold millions of copies worldwide.
the bell jar
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An overview of the novel features a biographical sketch of the American author, a list of characters, a summary of the plot, and critical and analytical views of the work.
Seminar paper from the year 2008 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 2,0, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (Department of English and Linguistics), course: Madness in Literature, 7 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: 1. Introduction Madness is an important aspect in literature - especially madness of female writers respectively madness of female chief characters is interesting to deal with concerning the social role of women in the cause of time. It [madness] is that state of mind where a person’s feelings or beliefs about himself [...] are completely disrupted, making him unable to function in whatever social role – husband, parent, friend, employee – he might expect to enjoy. It is the state where the sufferer passes beyond the bounds of reality, intelligibility, and rationality as defined by the bulk of society. The psychotic is a stranger among his own people. (Nettle 12) A character consistent to this definition of madness is Esther Greenwood in Silvia Plath’s autobiographical novel The Bell Jar which was published 1963. Being a young intelligent woman, Esther becomes mad as a result of the mental stress to conform to the traditional role of women or to break tradition. Esther Greenwood is passive and unable to be agent of her life. Never having learned how to develop herself as an independent individual, she is dependent on others and follows their ideals of a fulfilling life. She is torn between starting a family and starting a career. According to this, The Bell Jar reveals the difficulty of becoming an adult, by breaking tradition to be able to realize one’s personal scheme of life. As Susan Bassnett points out, “The Bell Jar is a novel about a suicide attempt that fails; but it is also a novel about a woman who learns how to live with herself and how to come to terms with the world, that world of destruction and horror [...]” (Bassnett 122). As the story of Esther Greenwood’s madness is full of interesting symbols and motifs, it is unfortunately impossible to deal with the whole of them. Consequently this paper will focus on few aspects revealing the split identity of Esther Greenwood and show the process of her recovery as well. These basic motifs are: the fig-tree, the fake identity she builds up and the motif of the bell jar. They will be discussed in the context of Esther’s mental illness...
A Study Guide for Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar," excerpted from Gale's acclaimed Novels for Students.This concise study guide includes plot summary; character analysis; author biography; study questions; historical context; suggestions for further reading; and much more. For any literature project, trust Novels for Students for all of your research needs.
The Bell Jar is a highly distinctive and unusual book, and although the era of the 1950's it represents has faded and disappeared into history, the power of this novel does not dissipate. The original essays in this volume each take on a specific angle from which to examine the work. One essay discusses the issue of nature vs. nurture in the novel, while another discusses the similarities between Plath's work and Susanna Kaysen's Girl, Interrupted. The older essays provide some of the finest scholarship on The Bell Jar that has been made available over the years, and offer a wide variety of critical approaches to this work.
Though her life was brief, the American poet and novelist Sylvia Plath (1932-63) exerted a profound influence on contemporary writers, particularly women writers of the sixties and seventies. Just as to her Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry Plath brought a decidedly feminist perspective, so too did she etch in her novel The Bell Jar a disturbing vision of life for young women in America at midcentury. The Bell Jar - based on Plath's own experiences as a student at Smith College, an intern at Mademoiselle, and a young woman battling for her own sanity amid societal mores of the times - was initially published in England under a pseudonym, its American publication stifled for years by the writer's family. When, however, the 1963 novel was finally released to U.S. audiences in 1971, it achieved both critical and popular success, and has since become a classic of feminist literature and a unique vehicle for better appreciating Plath's gifts. It is through a multifaceted lens that Linda Wagner-Martin examines The Bell Jar in this new study. Whereas past critical attention has centered on The Bell Jar as autobiography, Wagner-Martin transcends that approach, looking as well at the novel in its larger context of the social and historical forces shaping women's lives in America during the fifties and sixties. Thus eschewing a simplistic reading of the novel, the author plumbs issues of gender, genre, and narrative voice. Arguing that Plath's troubled personal history was the product of her struggle against contemporary social forces, Wagner-Martin reviews the writer's prior work and inspects earlier, partial versions of the novel; explores Plath's use of humor and sarcasm; traces the writer's representation of patriarchal structures in the novel; and ultimately places the novel squarely in the tradition of works about women at odds with a society dominated by patriarchal values. A brilliantly argued, eminently readable approach to this masterpiece, The Bell Jar: A Novel of the Fifties is certain to be lauded by scholars and students alike.
Because wherever I sat, on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok, I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air. Readers who are familiar with Sylvia Plath's work may recognize this well-known quotation from her first and only novel, The Bell Jar, which tackles issues of depression, mental illness, and the search for individuality. This compelling volume examines Sylvia Plath's life and writings, with a specific look at key ideas related to The Bell Jar. A collection of twenty-three essays offers readers context and insight to discussions centering around the pervasive impact of illness, the novel as a search for personal identity, and the autobiographical nature of the work. The book also examines contemporary perspectives on depression, such as the sometimes deadly pressure of perfectionism on gifted teens, and the idea that depression and risk of suicide run in families.