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Brooke Galietto 355 Midterm

Brooke Galietto 355 Midterm - Brooke Galietto March 4 2011...

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Brooke Galietto March 4, 2011 English 355 – Midterm Paper Prompt # 5 If in fact a bell jar, a glass container whose purpose is to protect and display delicate objects, serves as a metaphor for Esther Greenwood and her depression, then the reader must note that the purpose of Plath’s novel may be to forewarn society of certain misgivings. Esther Greenwood reflects, “To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream” (237). This quote suggests that perhaps society trapped Esther in this hypothetical bell jar. Social constructs have a huge impact on the individual and dictate the ideology of a people. For example, society tends to equivocate healthy and normal. We see this in countless situations throughout history; take for instance how gay people were checked into psychiatric hospitals in the 1950’s because they were outside of the norm and therefore unhealthy. Esther Greenwood’s natural differences from society ultimately imprison her in a bell jar outside of society. In her essay, “The Freudian Muse: Psychoanalysis and the Problem of Self- Revelation in Sylvia Plath”, Laure de Nerveaux discusses trends among women in the 1950s. She describes a movement dubbed “cold war maternalism”, characterized by the smothering mother, which was not a chosen parenting style but instead was a demand from society. As soldiers were expected to serve their country in war, women were expected to take care of the home front especially by raising quality men for the threatening and ambiguous future. The result among women who did not find this fulfilling, women such as Plath and potentially Esther Greenwood, was an all-consuming “claustrophobia” or captivity in a bell jar.
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Jorie Bell states, “Plath’s heroine may be “cured” at the end of The Bell Jar , but she is not more healthy. The cure is just another form of the illness.” I argue that Plath does not suggest that Esther Greenwood is cured at all. She is however conditioned into society. Neither societal pressures nor Esther’s depression are escaped. Social conforming through the repression of personal values must not be considered a cure for an eccentric girl. However, Esther Greenwood should not be considered a coward or weak but instead she should serve as a lesson to society. The demands of society are
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Brooke Galietto 355 Midterm - Brooke Galietto March 4 2011...

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