Week 10 - The Bell Jarx - Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar 1963 Madness in Literature and Film Lecture overview \u2022 The opening paragraph key themes \u2022

Week 10 - The Bell Jarx - Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar...

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The Bell Jar 1963 Sylvia Plath Madness in Literature and Film
Lecture overview The opening paragraph: key themes The problem that has no name: postwar women Madness and the madhouse Constructing madness: Laing, Sartre, Kristeva Esther’s suicide narrative
The Bell Jar : opening paragraph: ‘It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. I’m stupid about executions. The idea of being electrocuted makes me sick, and that’s all there was to read about in the papers – goggle-eyed headlines staring up at me on every street corner and at the fusty, peanut- smelling mouth of every subway. It had nothing to do with me, but I couldn’t help wondering what it would be like, being burned alive along your nerves’.
Themes Death/execution: Esther views her own death in these terms – constructed, not natural death The abject: visceral reaction that things that repulse or inspire fear/mortal dread Goggle-eyed: implies viewing of spectacle A clear sense of period and political context: 1953 Rosenbergs were only Americans to be executed as Soviet spies; postwar America; fear of communist conspiracy
The problem that has no name Postwar women
What is the cause of Esther’s angst? Restrictive nature of women’s position in post second world war American society Sexual inequality The Bell Jar : dramatizes the patriarchal ideologies that underpin 1950’s American society and their affect on the female psyche. - Feminist backlash
Restrictive nature of women’s position in post second world war American society Betty Friedan The Feminine Mystique , 1963 For some, this book heralded the start of the second wave of feminism. Based on Friedan’s surveys of women in 1957. Conclusion: many women are unhappy as housewives.
Second Wave Feminism: a overview 1960s to the early 1980s A broad movement that addressed a wide range of issues, including: legal inequalities based on gender, women in the workplace – ‘the glass ceiling’, sexuality and reproductive rights, the perception of women and their role in society.
What is the ‘feminine mystique’? The false notion that a woman’s ‘natural’ role is to be a housewife and mother. A socially constructed notion of femininity that says that to have a career (configured as masculine) conflicts with a woman’s rightful role as homemaker.
Shoshona Felman, Writing and Madness , 2003 ‘From her initial family upbringing throughout her subsequent development, the

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