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Women And Femininity In The Bell Jar

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In the novel The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath it shows the women and femininity. Tha novel challenged the rules that each woman should follow in the 1950s, as at that time everything was under control of the men. The main character Esther Greenwood, wanted to prove herself as a woman in a masculine world. From the social point of view, Esther is not achieving the good social standard to make her a good woman in people’s eyes. Thus, Sylvia Plath in The Bell Jar represent most of the woman’s problem in the new society, society standards for the young women and needs of women in that time era.

Eater desideted to go out with her friends to party after winning fashion magazine contest in New York, she started to get random feelings that she has what she does not want in her life, and the people around her are not the people she asked for. A silence took over her as she said: The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence”, and then continues on:

“I knew perfectly well the cars were making a noise, and the people in them and behind the lit windows of the buildings were making a noise, and the river was making a noise, but I couldn’t hear a thing. The city hung in my window… but it might just as well not have been there at all, for the good it did me.” (pp.18-19)

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Her feelings of New York society are growing a day after a day, the particular mix that she experiences in this society makes her feel more confused and uncertain. It is torn between two realms, a reality represented by New York, and a way of life that wants more than it can offer. And the traditional world of her life with her father, which is too easy for her to survive.

Being a young woman that is 19 years old like Esther, there are some standards to follow to be able to adapt to the country. Some standards each woman have to know them and almost be professional doing them, some examples could be like cooking or be able to inspire the opposite sex as well as each woman should or have to get married at a young age, other wise no men would look at her thinking there is something wrong with her. Esther got a chance to meet Buddy Willard, and them relation got stronger to be her boyfriend. At unexpected times when she talked to Buddy, she saw something she never saw in him which changer her whole point of view about men. Esther figured out that he is not a ‘pure’ man as she though for the whole time talking to him, at first, she respected Buddy and had the feeling that he was different from other men, but after that discovery, she characterised their relationship as being like:

“That Jewish man and that nun, although of course we weren’t Jewish or catholic but Unitarian. We had together under our own imaginary fig tree, and what we had seen wasn’t a bird coming out of an egg but a baby coming out of a woman, and then something awful happened and we went our separate ways.” (p. 55)

The imagery of the Jew and the nun shows how difficult their relationship has become and, in general, how their view of interactions between the opposite sexes has evolved throughout the book.

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Women And Femininity In The Bell Jar. (2021, September 30). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from
“Women And Femininity In The Bell Jar.” Edubirdie, 30 Sept. 2021,
Women And Femininity In The Bell Jar. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Sept. 2023].
Women And Femininity In The Bell Jar [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 30 [cited 2023 Sept 25]. Available from:
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