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Analysis of a Novel - the Bell Jar

  • Submitted by: PrimalGreen
  • on January 8, 2013
  • Category: English
  • Length: 1,137 words

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Below is a free excerpt of "Analysis of a Novel - the Bell Jar" from Anti Essays, your source for free research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

Sylvia Plath’s semi autobiographical novel The Bell Jar deals with its primary theme of identity through the trifold lenses of psychological illness, the sociological oppression of 1950s America prior to pre-modernist feminism and teenage coming-of-age.   Throughout the novel, Plath uses a linear narrative fragmented by time to mimic the deteriorating state of mind of the protagonist, Esther Greenwood.   The selected extract within chapter 8 is a pivotal moment in the context of the novel as hinted at by Plath herself when she refers to a “white sun” which “hung over the suspended waves of the hills, an insentient pivot without which the world would not exist”.   This is a technique similarly utilised by Plath in her seminal poem Ariel in the line “God’s Lioness” which “can be seen as a direct reference to the Hebrew or Jewish Ariel meaning Lion of God” (Davis, 1972).   The “insentient pivot” and “suspended waves” also create a sense of a metaphorical pendulum devout of the potential to feel (emulating Esther’s disconnecting bell jar effect) captured at its moment of maximum Potential Energy before sweeping the circular arc of its inevitable trajectory (in a manner imitating Esther’s slide into madness).

The extract begins with Esther standing above society at the top of Mount Pisgah.   The initial language is figurative and representative of a moment of epiphany with an unusual hint of optimism in Esther’s thought to “enjoy the view whilst I had the chance”.   Plath uses extensive sibilance (“‘skier”, “snowy summit”, “crossing”, “polish”, “glass”, “visionary”, “clearness”) to convey a moment of purity.   Combined with the metonym used to create the metaphorical disintegration of the American flag (“fugitive”, “red and blue and white jacketed skiers”) Plath conveys the image of a metaphorical mountain; all of the inner conflict endured by Ester’s inability to accept the doctrine of 1950s America represented in the American flag, and which drove her up the mountain,...

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