Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar: a Mirror of American Fifties

Ghandeharion A., Bozorgian F., Sabbagh M.R.G.




Abstract


With its portrayal of a talented yet frustrated young American woman in the 1950s, Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar (1963) depicts the experiences of a nineteen-year-old girl before her mental breakdown. Benefitting from a Friedanian second wave feminism, this paper aims to trace the root of disappointment and identity crisis in Plath's heroine, Esther Greenwood. It is understood that besides being a personal issue, her frustration is the outcome of sociocultural factors. The lack of role models and the contradictory messages sent by the media lead to her anxiety, disillusionment, and uncertainty. The Bell Jar proposes a solution: it is indeed possible for a woman to hold a fulfilling career and at the same time be a caring wife and a loving mother. And this is the answer Esther tries to figure out at a time when the boundaries between the domestic sphere and the outside world are clearly defined for women.


Keywords


Sylvia Plath; The Bell Jar; Betty Freidan; the America of the fifties

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