Course Hero Logo

The Bell Jar | Study Guide

Sylvia Plath

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "The Bell Jar Study Guide." Course Hero. 28 July 2016. Web. 3 June 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2016, July 28). The Bell Jar Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 3, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2016)



Course Hero. "The Bell Jar Study Guide." July 28, 2016. Accessed June 3, 2023.


Course Hero, "The Bell Jar Study Guide," July 28, 2016, accessed June 3, 2023,

The Bell Jar | Characters

Character Description
Esther Greenwood Esther is a brilliant college student who undergoes a prolonged mental breakdown and gradual recovery. Read More
Buddy Willard Buddy is Esther's on-again, off-again boyfriend, although the pair have little in common besides the fact that their mothers are friends. Read More
Mrs. Greenwood Mrs. Greenwood is Esther's passive-aggressive but well-intentioned mother. Read More
Joan Giling Joan Giling acts as Esther's double in many ways: they attend the same schools, date the same boy, and experience mental breakdowns and suicide attempts. Read More
Doreen Doreen, one of Esther's fellow guest editors, is an irreverent young woman who often tries to distract Esther from her responsibilities. Read More
Jay Cee Jay Cee is Esther's boss during her magazine internship. Read More
Doctor Nolan Dr. Nolan successfully treats Esther and becomes a mother figure for her. Read More
Betsy Betsy is another of Esther's fellow guest editors, a perky midwesterner who contrasts with Doreen and for whom Esther feels some disdain.
Cal Esther spends a day at the beach with Cal, a friend of Jody's, and they have a discussion about the best way to commit suicide.
Constantin Constantin is a United Nations translator with whom Esther has one date.
Dee Dee Dee Dee is a married patient who is a close friend of Joan Giling's.
Doctor Gordon Doctor Gordon is a handsome but incompetent psychiatrist who gives Esther poorly administered shock therapy.
Dodo Conway Dodo Conway is Esther's neighbor, the pregnant mother of six children, and a great source of anxiety for Esther.
Eric Esther meets Eric in college when he is stood up by a date. They discuss love and sex.
Frankie Frankie is the friend of Doreen's Manhattan boyfriend Lenny.
George Bakewell George Bakewell is houseman (intern) at the first hospital Esther is taken to after her overdose.
Hilda Hilda is a talented hatmaker who is apprenticed to the fashion editor at Esther's magazine.
Irwin Irwin is a respectable Harvard math professor to whom Esther loses her virginity.
Jody Jody, a friend of Esther's, is accepted to the same writing class from which Esther is rejected.
Lenny Shepherd Lenny is a deejay whom Doreen and Esther meet in a bar.
Marco Marco is a rich Peruvian who sexually assaults Esther during a blind date.
Miss Norris Miss Norris is a silent, elderly patient at Esther's private hospital.
Mrs. Savage Mrs. Savage is a society woman and patient at Esther's private hospital.
Mrs. Tomolillo Mrs. Tomolillo is a woman at Buddy's hospital whom Esther watches deliver a baby. A version of her appears again as Esther's hospital roommate after a suicide attempt.
Mrs. Willard Buddy's mother is the voice in the novel that advocates traditional gender roles for women.
Mr. Willard Mr. Willard, Buddy's father, tells Esther that he and his wife would welcome her as a daughter-in-law.
Philomena Guinea A novelist and alumna of Esther's college, Philomena Guinea pays Esther's tuition and, later, her hospital fees.
Teresa Teresa, the family doctor, is Esther's aunt's sister-in-law.
The sailor The very young sailor tries to pick Esther up on the Boston Common.
Valerie Valerie, a woman about Esther's age at the private hospital, shows Esther her lobotomy scars.
Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about The Bell Jar? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!