ENGLISH 5: Plath Prompt

10 Feb

Please post your 500-WORD reaction to the next 3 chapters (4-6), below.  Feel free to talk about what Plath could be saying through this novel, from the balance (or lack thereof) between sanity vs insanity, to the idea of normal vs abnormal, to male & female roles/positions in society…  I want you to assume onus and lecture us with and on your observations in this transcending text of Ms. Plath’s.

Yours,

Mike

25 Responses to “ENGLISH 5: Plath Prompt”

  1. Jordan Borell February 11, 2014 at 6:14 am #

    What I’ve put together from this book is obviously that our narrator is our author indeed. I don’t care if they have different names and I don’t care even if some of it may not have happened quite like it was put in the book. What I’ve gotten out of this or “Walked away with” is that our dear Ms. Plath is incredibly tired at this point. Not just tired but she is at this point, looking. She’s not looking for some dreamy guy who will make her a wife and some kids and that sappy fluffy dream. She is looking for something that makes her like everyone else. In other words she wants to be happy and she wants to fit in and pop around the world with a big old gleaming face on. But in that search she dissects everything. She dissects it all to find what may make her happy. And when it doesn’t make her happy she has no choice but to pick it apart, find all the pieces, strip the faults from the very essence of it and meander around with its entrails and declare all it’s absurdity. Yes I find it terrible that women were treated like that back then but that’s not what I’m talking about. Her relationship with little Buddy friend pal. He makes her so happy and delighted and she turns on this sort of happy blonde wife who knows nothing face and expects all the happiness to fill her up as they went. Then one day she finds him to be less then what she wants, maybe most people would be off put. But with her it’s as if he was actually killing babies as they were born. So she goes ahead and she finds him a hypocrite for something that was not his fault. Having sex was his fault, I’m talking about the way he acted. She just hated the way that he was acting around her! Like he was all-innocent and that all these hugs and kisses were nothing to him this whole time. Just because you have had sex does not mean that you lose all feelings besides the ones on your penis. She finds what she can in him that is wrong and as I have said rips him from herself as if he has a black taint like a large coffee stain right in the center of him. That’s definitely going to be what my paper is about for this book but on a side note I love Sylvia Plath! Favorite author by far I must say. The way she writes is so disappointing and bleak it makes me cry. It makes me feel exactly how I feel all the time! I can really connect with her. Searching for something that doesn’t exist and wanting it so bad that almost anything that may be like it is worth it. So I reach out for it and it sinks its fangs through my hand. She kills me, because its soaking me in my own foul faults. I want to be happy so badly. And I want to be loved! That’s what I cry for. That’s what we cry for. I am Sylvia Plath.

    -Jordan Borell

  2. Benjamin Westmoreland February 11, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    Pulled

    Brilliant as she is passionate, Plath forces readers on, taunting them with her literary dagger. It is a double edged dagger with out a doubt as darkness coupled with cynical humor urges one to turn the page. Even when one doesn’t want to. Always hovering low as if moods had a scale of elevation, Plath, sends her character Esther on a convoluted hunt. Hunting for answers that seemingly remain unclear, through chapter six anyhow. Out of the writhed first six chapters something is apparent, however, and that is Esther’s repetitive disappointment of her interaction with other humans. There is no being that matches the energy and sensation that Esther puts towards relationships.
    Finding herself in an abyss of new, Esther forges new friendships. There are no lack of girls around to become friends with, but Esther finds herself gravitating towards Betsy and Doreen. Two characters that are on opposing sides of a moral spectrum with Betsy following stringent routine and Doreen free willing, Esther sways at the middle ground with her indecisiveness. Demonstrating a greater affinity to be by Doreen’s side and experiment with spontaneity, Esther admires Doreen by saying “Doreen had intuition. Everything she said was like a secret voice speaking straight out of my own bones”(Plath, 7). Young and naive, the enamored sensation is short lived when Esther is subtly disappointed with Doreen when having her success with Lenny. Clearly let down and envious, Esther felt that she did what any friend would do and stood loyal by Doreen. That was until Doreen had ruined her solace in the middle of the night. Showing obvious distain by the time she opens the door, Esther has the thought to herself “It was Betsy I resembled at heart”(Plath, 22). The internal struggle to chose her identity is full force as Plath’s insight entrusts us with the privilege to create our on premonition of what’s to come.
    Devastation of human relations do not stop there for poor Esther. As the relationship between Esther and Buddy Willard unfolds we are first hopeful for some fable of a fairy-tale will ensue as we were initially led to believe but still have our reservations as we know that Esther’s sun does not shine forever. Esther has a strong feeling of desire for Buddy that on top of being fed by her reward system’s positive feedback loop is also amplified by Buddy’s false-positive reinforcement towards her. Buddy may have been having the same type of feelings about Esther, but before anything would come to fruition she is told by Buddy of his sexual escapades. Toying with the stereotype that men are misogynistic creatures, Plath also brings the stigma that women retain their innocence when Esther’s is shattered upon finding out about Buddy’s sexual affair with a woman. Dispirited by her involvement with other beings again, Esther drifts back to the darkness when she attests to her happiness upon finding out of Buddy’s sickness. Ironically enough, this wishing of ill-will is the first affirmation of her mental sickness.
    To jump to a conclusion at this point in the reading would be a mistake and cause a lose of enthusiasm. The sense of a foreboding “doomsday” or epiphany is present in all of our minds, but to give one’s thoughts of where the book is headed would be to ruin the intimacy that Plath needs us to have individually with her cynical whit. Without ruining the remainder of the read one theme has become apparent, the grasp of self control is weakening and Esther soon will lose her ability to be helped by others.

  3. Breanna Kelly February 12, 2014 at 12:15 am #

    In chapters four through seven, Sylvia Plath gives us more insight into the main character’s head. We see on page 39 that Ester’s mother obviously belittles her father for dying and not leaving any money for the family to live off of. The way that her mother had to fend for her family shows why Ester is so rebellious against the traditional way that women are treated. Sylvia also shows us that Ester is not always serious. In the previous chapters, she showed some humor. I think that the humor makes the book much better. “The water had a few cherry blossoms floating in it, and I thought it must be some clear sort of Japanese after-dinner soup and ate every bit of it, including the crisp little blossoms. Mrs. Guinea never said anything, and it was only much later, when I told a debutante I knew at college about the dinner, that I learned what I had done” (Plath, 41). I think this shows that she is not the typical kind of girl that grew up rich. She has a mind that is not like the rest of the girls that she is surrounded around. when they all go to the movies, she notices that everyone in the movie is breathless from the unoriginal movie that is playing. “At about this point I began to feel peculiar. I looked round me at all the rows of rapt little heads with the same silver glow on them at the front and the same black shadow on them at the back, they looked like nothing more or less than a lot of stupid moonbrains” (Plath, 42). She thinks that of the majority of the people in the book besides her best friend, Doreen. “I raised my eyes then, and saw Doreen’s head silhouetted against the paling window, her blonde hair lit at the tips from behind like a halo of gold. Her face was in shadow, so I couldn’t make out her expression, but I felt a sort of expert tenderness flowing from the ends of her fingers” (Plath, 47). The way she talks about Doreen shows that she almost idolizes her. She does not think of her as another one of the girls that she seems somewhat fake with, but she actually appreciates Doreen’s friendship. Plath seems to have a need for affection and that shows through with her characters whether it is with friendship or love, “There I went again, building up a glamorous picture of a man who would love me passionately the minute he met me, and all out of a few prosy nothings” (Plath 52). Esther’s view on love is very strange. she expects someone to fall madly in love with her, although she is extremely self conscious. When things between her and Buddy fall apart, she is not upset that he cheated on her at all. She is mad that he “lied” about the way he felt about her. “What I couldn’t stand was Buddy’s pretending I was so sexy and he was so pure, when all the time he’d been having an affair with that tarty waitress and must have felt like laughing in my face” (Plath 71). The way that she is constantly afraid that he is laughing about getting her to believe him is almost sad. She is so insecure that she does not believe that what she had with him was true at any point. After this point, she calls him a hypocrite and seems to hate him. I do not think that her writing is an insight to Sylvia’s depression, I just think that honestly she has a upsetting view on life by the way she describes things.

  4. Shannon February 12, 2014 at 1:44 am #

    Mike are we supposed to post our response in a comment? Or is there a specific place you want us to post it?

  5. Avalon February 12, 2014 at 2:34 am #

    Already with these three chapters I can see the idea of a power struggle showing up. Right away in chapter four, Esther is talking about how her boss had to flatter the more famous man, but not hurt the less famous lady. I think this is about the third or fourth time where some sort of comparison between men and women have shown up where women are lesser in some way.
    I love the line, “Don’t let the wicked city get you down.” (Plath 39) I don’t really know if it has any meaning, but it just stands out on the page to me. Perhaps because Esther already does seem down. She has this great opportunity that I’m sure many other young women would have loved to have, and she doesn’t seem like she quite appreciates it as much as she should. She even acknowledges this idea.
    Another thing that stuck out to me is how Esther doesn’t like Technicolor, but there is so much color in her writing.
    Chapter six was interesting to me mostly because of the description of the baby being born in the hospital and how horrible it sounded. I feel like I have a unique perspective on childbirth. My mom is a practicing Doula and she both me and my brother at home under the supervision of a midwife. The description of the childbirth just seemed so intense.
    I wonder if it’s another example of some sort of power struggle with the doctor insulting Esther and saying how she shouldn’t be present because then she’d never have kids and it would be the end of the human race. I think this whole idea of a power struggle is really interesting. From what I’ve researched and heard, Plath did not have a great marriage and it was a power struggle in itself where her husband put her down. This seems to come across in her writing with the famous man (perhaps her husband) and the less famous woman (perhaps her self). Also the power struggle idea with the women listening to the man speak. They had no choice. What seems like flattery can also be seen as almost sarcastic when he calls them pretty and smart, but it doesn’t come across as sincere. I remember when I was about 10 and my brother was 14, a distant male relative called my brother the smart one and me the pretty one. My older sister and mother both got very upset at that remark. I always tend to get remarks about how nice I look from male relatives and how grown up I am, yet from my female relatives, I get more comments about my accomplishments. I wonder if it’s just how we’re raised in our society.

  6. Jenna Wandrey February 12, 2014 at 3:06 am #

    Ester seems to be constantly looking for more. I noticed that she previously said that she was closer to Doreen and that, “everything she said was like a secret voice speaking straight out of my own bones” (7). Then she changes her mind because of Doreen’s promiscuous or rather improper behavior. Yet when she is at the Ladies’ Day, she brings up that she wished Doreen there. I believe that this relationship is not about similarities. Ester is the good girl who got the grades without straying away from what was right. Doreen is who Ester wants to be, the secret person that lies within Ester. Only Ester is more than a simple girl with naughty thoughts. She is smart and observes.
    In these last chapters I noticed how Ester put herself in situations that may make her uncomfortable. Previously she put herself in an awkward position with Doreen and Lenny Shepherd. In these chapters it was with Billy Willard. Their relationship began under false pretenses. Ester gave Buddy the impression that she was anything but innocent. And Buddy did not let on the Ester that he had experience. However, Ester only saw what she wanted to see anyways. Before they even went out, Ester said, “I decided to expect nothing from Buddy Willard” (59). And yet the very next page she says, “I had imagined Buddy would fall in love with me that weekend..” (60). Ester only saw what she wanted to see from Buddy Willard and when he was not what she envisioned she set him aside.
    I believe that Ester is constantly searching for something to fulfill her. To make her happy and feel satisfied. She described herself has an A student, rarely slipping in any class and always striving with excellence. But she is beginning to slip. I believe that Ester strives to be the best, but gets little satisfaction from reaching her goals.

    I wrote this with inspiration from The Bell Jar, Mirror and from Sylvia Plath:
    No Title
    The silence is overwhelming.
    Though the world is imbued with din,
    Swelling without lysing,
    I am empty.

    Those eyes held false truth.
    Broken promises are remembered,
    but never acknowledged.
    Drowning,
    My restless heart knows no end.

    Intimacy in those eyes,
    Thirsting for those lips,
    The lingering tough.
    Infatuation is not love.

    Trudging, searching,
    Without progress, I continue.
    Searching, trudging,
    I am gasping.

  7. Cristian Flores February 12, 2014 at 3:32 am #

    Cristian Flores
    2/11/14

    From the first three chapters and the following three chapters, there is a large difference in the way Sylvia Plath takes on her novel as she completely changes her tone from emptiness to being loved. In the beginning Ester almost seeks out a man, but insults them all (other than Lenny), while saying that some are short (she hates being with shorter men) and others are ugly. She has such a saddening tone and admits that she should be having the time of her life, but rather feels very empty. She was so upset, that she even wrote “The silence depressed me” and then she went to take a bath, which is what she does when she is sad that she’s going to die or heartbroken. Her mentality was so negative that she didn’t even believe she would ever get married. She tried to make herself feel better than the way she had been feeling by saying she never intended to get married and would continue to make a joke about it with her grandfather. She clearly states a tone that is quite far from being happy and when we compare it to the following chapters, it isn’t all joyful, but there is much more peace and happiness in her life.
    The following chapters we read presented a much different scenario compared to the first. It wasn’t all good as she was getting sick from the food and all, but she was expressing a much nicer friendship that she had with Betsy and Doreen. Regardless of their sickness, they were beginning to show acts of kindness as they worked together in getting to the hotel and taking turns helping each other through the vomiting. Doreen later shows up after being away with Lenny and takes care of her first over everyone else and even gives her the food that was meant for Doreen. The story also begins to change to a happier mood as she goes back to her past where she had a wonderful life with Buddy until she saw how the baby was born. Though it was in the past, she expresses her story and presents a time which made her very happy though it later on would upset her. It expressed her relationship with Buddy, and this gave her much happiness being with him. It made her a whole new person to not only herself, but to everyone around her as well. She would express that there were some weird things that Buddy would do, such as randomly hitchhike from Yale just to say hi, but she was happy as Buddy expressed his likeness to her and when he asked her to the Junior Prom, she was incredibly excited. She concludes the scene with her finding out more information about Buddy which makes her lose her trust for Buddy (for being such a hypocrite), but brings you back to why she has certain trust issues and insecurities that occurred in the first three chapters.
    The first few chapters reflected an empty life that Ester was going through, but the following chapters presented a happy moment in her life which later caused her emptiness to appear while it also expressed her tone a little after all of her negativity. She is simply looking to fit in somewhere , and in the last bit of her story following her food poisoning, she is beginning to come together with the people around her and building her relationships with others.

  8. Vanessa P. February 12, 2014 at 4:49 am #

    Hi everyone,
    Vanessa here. Just have to share with you all some thoughts and feelings, some ideas and comments about chapters 4-6. I have read the book so I have somewhat of a different read than some of you, I actually really encourage reading this book twice, its definitely more enriching and better understood I feel.
    There were a few things that I couldn’t let go of after reading these chapters: first, the interaction and relationship with men Esther engages in. It honestly bothers me the way she interacts with them. Even though we are given just words, I feel like I am watching it all happen. Her relationship with Buddy is just sad. On page 57 Esther tells us that she takes everything Buddy says as the honest to God truth. First of all, I feel like on page 56, when buddy tells Esther that a poem is a piece of dust…I would have gone crazy if I was her. As a writer, which she is, I would have taken it as an insult. That would have been like telling me cosmetics and skincare is crap and I should act like its sidewalk spit. It definitely stuck a chord with me that Esther went right along with his comment like it was the truth, and went on hypnotized, talking about how strong and white his teeth were. How pathetic. She talks about Buddy’s smile multiple times and I feel like she is telling us that his smile and facial features are a reason to give up on her intuition and let him influence or change her mind about all her own views. Her trusting everything Buddy has to say screams identity issues. Though Esther is young, at that age you have a set of values or at least an idea of how you work as a person towards people with opposing or different ideas than yourself. If Esther can easily dismiss her thoughts or feelings towards her own career according to what Buddy Willard has to say, is scary.
    An additional theme I picked up on was Esther fascination with men and their role in society. On page 66, Esther talks about the drug men must have created that makes women forget their labor pains. She thinks that they created this so women would go home after having a baby, and be willing to start on another so quickly. I love that she pointed this out, it falls into place of what commonly happens today. Politicians are happy to attempt to remove birth control pills from insured medication, but will gladly add Viagra on the drop of a dime! This is funny to me and though I don’t hold an extreme position against males’ social role in society, it is hard to ignore Esther’s comment.
    During this time Esther is in New York, birth control pills are a new thing to society. I feel that this has a big role as far as how she views child birth and men in general.
    If a young woman, like Esther don’t know that there is a way to have sex with someone without potentially getting pregnant every time, I feel that she would have the insecurities she does. Esther has an obsession with men and their power over woman. I feel that the power stems from the fact that young women during Esther’s time are often getting married and starting a family very soon after. So she knows that she is relying on a man to look normal in society’s eyes. The pressure of being the perfect, quiet, and well-mannered woman rests heavily on her shoulders because she doesn’t feel that she can provide that at this point in her life. I don’t blame her. But again, this is all stemming from pressure of society to find a man, marry, and give birth. All while she is trying to find herself, but having a hard time doing so. Completely relatable Esther.

  9. Lisa Flint February 12, 2014 at 4:50 am #

    It must be hard to try to keep up with wealthy girls. Ester did not come from a wealthy family, and relies solely on the assistance from others. It is understandable that she is insecure about tipping the cab driver and the bellboy. Not only does she seem come from a small town, which is probably unaccustomed to tipping, she doesn’t have money to throw around, as she is financially strapped. I feel for her, and can see that she is under a lot of social pressure to fit into a mold.
    Ester seems to be an independent thinker, and is not one to follow the flock. During the football romance movie, she is bored and describes all the girls in attendance as moonbrains. I love this description, and the way she sees how everyone in society just falls into their place. Ester knows she should enjoy the movie and pine to be with Rick or Gill the “bone heads”, but the typical type of dreamboat won’t work for her.
    Although Ester isn’t interested in bone heads, she is desperate to be loved by someone, and seems to be constantly hoping that someone would either ring her phone or knock at her door, looking to gain her affection. Constantine, a friend of Mrs. Willard called to schedule a lunch date, and without even meeting this man she had dreamy expectations, which turn out to be crushed when wasn’t calling for a connection. Her disappointment made me feel that she is very lonely and not quite sure how to get the affection she needs.
    Buddy, was her supposed ideal mate according to her family and friends. I found the interactions between Ester and buddy just weird. When Buddy gets naked in front of her, and exposes his turkey neck, it didn’t seem to phase her. She just sort of looked him over and he asks to see her and like no big deal, and says not now. I didn’t get it, what was wrong with this man, why was he not seducing her like any other typical college guy. I didn’t understand what the point was, and I found at this point, his character became off-putting and confusing to me. Other awkward moments such as the prom and taking her to his med school, I mean what was that? Was it supposed to be a date?
    I feel like the tipping point for her and Buddy, was when she saw that woman give birth, she seemed to really start questioning the role of a woman. Saying that it would be just like a man to invent a drug to make a woman forget. She describes the table as a torture table and the woman’s moans of pain. In that thought she is really coming to the realization of reality instead of the fantasy she had in her head.
    Once she found out that buddy had already had sex, I really started to like her character. I respect that she can’t stand someone that is inauthentic and isn’t their true self. I was glad when she realized that he wasn’t for her she needs someone authentic and that she respects.

  10. Kevin To February 12, 2014 at 5:18 am #

    My reaction to chapters 4-6 were quite surprising. The way Plath talks about Esther is that she is a women who is repetitively happy and lively, but her shady, depressed nature resists the liveliness. She is mentally ill and likes the fact that people are giving her attention and caring for her. Esther values the things that she does in life as she grew up from a poor background. A lot of pressure bestows upon Esther because since she is poor, only a scholarship is keeping her in school. Therefore, she has to keep putting in work in order to strive for her success. Just as Esther suffered from a mental illness, so did Sylvia Plath who created Esther. Sylvia suffers from depression that led to her suicide in 1963. I found The Bell Jar very fascinating to where Plath created a character that resembles herself with all the ups and downs of her own life into another fictional character. In chapter 5 we learn that Esther relates her relationship with Buddy to a Fig story she found in a book. She believed that the doomed love story between the Jewish man and the nun related back to her and Buddy. Esther was not familiar with the male body as Buddy displayed his nakedness to her. She was shocked by it and would not do the same for Buddy. The Bell Jar compares man and women in the sense where one does not understand the other. In chapter 6, Esther believed that man created medicine for a women in labor. She thought the medicine tricking the mind of the women into feeling no pain was wrong. Mrs. Willard tells Buddy, “What a man is is an arrow into the future, and what a women is is the place the arrow shoots from.” This quote was very interesting in the sense that there could be different view on what it means. Esther and Buddy’s relationship is similar to Plath and Hughes in the sense where there were a lot of ups and downs throughout it all. Plath’s writing depicted her entire life from the start to the end. Esther had the thought that the relationship with Buddy would interfere with her writing career as was Plath and Hughes. These chapters resemble the society view on a male and female. How Esther does not understand Buddy’s intentions on sleeping with other women as he is of her writing. They love each other either way but there is a sense of confusion among the two where she was about to break up with him until he called and said he had TB. Kind of an irony if she was only with him because he was sick but so was she. Then she goes ahead and tells her friend’s that they are practically engaged. She acts selfish in order to get what she wants and does not really care what anybody thinks in the end. This was my reaction throughout chapters 4-6 and how it relates back to Sylvia Plath’s life.

  11. Jackie Fowler February 12, 2014 at 5:34 am #

    A recurrent theme thus far is how Esther stands out among the other girls. For being “depressed” as the class claims her tone to be, she does put herself on a pedestal when she compares herself to these other girls. For instance when she referred to the other girls as “stupid moonbrains” on page 42. Esther’s interest in solidarity is also apparent. Most girls her age would love to go to dress up and go to these parties, dances and movie premieres, Esther on the other hand would much rather be alone in Central Park, or roam the city by herself.
    Sylvia Path’s writing is quite descriptive. I could practically feel everything Esther was going through in the bathroom scene after she had got food poisoning from Ladies’ Day. The way she described how her stomach felt and the analogies she used were so descriptive that I put myself in her shoes from the times I’ve puked and felt my mouth watering up, the same way it does when one is about to puke. Another very descriptive scene was when Esther witnessed the women giving birth. I’ve never seen a women give birth in person nor on TV but the way she described it I might as well have especially when she says “I heard the scissors close on the woman’s skin like cloth and the blood began to run down—a fierce, bright red” (66). I could hear and feel exactly what she was saying.
    I think Esther is always looking for excuses for why men are not fit for her. Over and over she calls describes many men in the novel as “ugly” and after being with Buddy she has definitely become more picky with whom she associates herself with. Another way of putting herself on a pedestal per say.
    I can’t really seem to pin point a rational reason to explain why Esther hates Buddy. Jealousy and insecurity was definitely present from the beginning and what seemed to be the end of their relationship. When Buddy came over to invite her to Junior prom but had said he was with another girl going to her dance really upset Esther. Also when Esther found out that he was not pure also upset her as well, which I think is one of the many reasons she was stand offish with Buddy. Although she seemed very interested in buddy and got very oogly googly towards him, her “I guess” statement made it seem that she was not interested at all. It seemed more like she was going with the flow and she stated how she regretted that she did that and wish she had more of a stance in the relationship. I think that signifies gender roles and how many women are just there in relationships.
    Gender roles became very apparent in chapter 6 when they went to see the women give birth. She states, “I though it sounds just like the sort of drug a man would invent” (66) when Buddy told her that the doctors give the women medicine to forget the pain. There is definitely some symbolism hidden underneath the idea of a pain reliever for women given by men. However, I still am quite lost on why she lost interest in Buddy so fast after this scene and how significant it was in their relationship as she stated before.

  12. Jonathan C. Rodriguez February 12, 2014 at 6:07 am #

    Esther is a Mess (Reading Response)

    The first reading had left me in suspense, and this last reading did the same. Sylvia Plath’s intimate writing style is awkwardly personable. Protagonist Esther in The Bell Jar displays herself as a quirky individual. For fun she “collects” people with interesting names. She unfortunately feels anomalous to the people around her. In page 42 she departs the film watching to observe her fellow classmates and described them as “stupid moon men.” I found it funny, but also interesting how easy it is for her to seclude herself from the group in such a narcissistic manner. Esther has a superiority complex fueled by her insecurities. This became evident when she was invited on a prospective date with an individual named Constantine. First, she fantasizes about how great it could be, but then the worst case scenario came to mind where she feared that he wouldn’t like her. She instinctively decides she would rather he be ugly, that way she would be in the position of power. This insecurity, displayed in the vivacious truthfulness in the text, is very relatable. The intimate writing of her Esther’s inner most thoughts is enthralling. It’s what keeps me reading.
    The hidden pompous side of Esther is what I dislike the most, as a person. On top of being so discontent with things, she’s a hypocrite. For a good part of the book she is building up to the sham of a character that is Buddy. Buddy, it turns out; had a fling. He had intercourse with someone. The deception wasn’t the sex act itself, but that she felt he put on an act. Throughout the relationship she had felt in control as if she was the sexy one and he were the meek one. It turned out that he was deceitfully impure, he had a hidden life. Ironic considering Esther puts on an act in front of everybody she encounters. On page 73 Esther talks of the deception she played upon her floor mates (she would fake being in a loving relationship so they wouldn’t heckle her studious activities). It was this This juxtaposition of both Buddy and Esther’s actions that led for me to effectively conclude both were hypocrites. Esther being the worst offender.
    There is strong religious connotations in the last read. She speaks about Doreen in a godly sense and mentions the word “pure” several times. I couldn’t help but see comparisons to the garden of Eden. Esther was poisoned. Esther saw a naked Buddy and felt uneasy and disgusted. There was a story concerning a nun and a Jewish man witnessing life and then being ashamed of it. Esther was reading about the last crusades in one of the chapters and had a discussion about virginity with her boyfriend. I haven’t connected the dots yet in this emanating theme but am looking in to it.
    I personally enjoy finding things that are related to the setting as they give a better image as to what the culture was like. She mentions in page 39 her father deliberately didn’t have life insurance. I thought this was telling of the time period after the Great Depression where individuals had lost faith in banks and corporations. Sylvia is very conscious of her culture. This critical nature is evident in page 66 where she has undeniably feminist thoughts concerning the man made mechanical nature of child births.

  13. Rose Canfield-Hershkowitz February 12, 2014 at 6:53 am #

    So far in The Bell Jar, what has jumped out at me the most is that Esther desperately wants to feel as if she is part of the world, not merely a bystander, that she deeply desires love above all else but spurns male domination, and that she certainly owns her actions.
    Esther has claimed to feel as if she is the eye of a tornado, surrounding by hustle and bustle without feeling able to take any part in it. She is having these fantastic opportunities and experiences and relishing them far less than she should, and is feeling confused, and perhaps worried, that she is not enjoying herself. Her lack of enthusiasm is merely added to with the knowledge that she should be enjoying herself, thus making her feel even worse about her inability to feel the excitement of her surroundings and happenings.
    Esther also speaks at length of wanting to be loved. In the fifth chapter, when the simultaneous interpreter calls and Esther immediately dreams of him as some beautiful man who will instantly love her and sweep her off her feet, it becomes fairly clear that Esther desires love above all. She does not, however, wish to settle in the slightest. She wants to love and be loved by somebody who does not compromise her in any way, but truly accentuates her. She wants to love someone who will love her for her, and let her be herself, and not take advantage of her or dominate her in an incredibly male-centric society. Esther seems to believe this is a bit of a far-fetched dream, and as such, her fantasies are even greater. She is truly hoping that someone different will come along and allow her to be the queen of everything.
    She writes of Buddy with regret. It is not instantly obvious, as she pours so much contempt into her descriptions of their time together and his character and her feelings of him, but the contempt she feels is magnified by the love she felt was spurned and by the intensely hypocritical nature Buddy has. I do not necessarily agree that she should have felt so burned by Buddy’s actions, but I certainly understand deciding to forego the love of someone who was not straight with her from the beginning. Esther writes a wish: she wishes that Buddy had not turned out to be so disgustingly hypocritical. She also realizes that Buddy represents an incredibly male-dominated society and institution. As she so rightly states, only a man would come up with a drug that would make a woman unaware during childbirth and claiming it dulled the pain, even though she would experience it fully, but forget it after. This in itself absolutely disgusts Esther, and it certainly contributed to her loss of affection for Buddy.
    One instance that really stood out to me in the fourth chapter was when Esther drank the entire contents of a fingerbowl for hand washing. She did not balk at the idea or taste of what she was doing, she assumed it was a custom, and went for it. There are other hints in the writing that Esther owns what she does, she jumps right in with everything, and does nothing halfheartedly. Esther’s successes at school certainly highlight this as well. She never did anything halfway, she either went for it completely or did not even bother, and found a way to convince those around her that she was doing the right thing for the right reasons, as with her chemistry class with Mr. Manzi.
    Overall, I am utterly enjoying Esther’s narrative, and Sylvia’s writing is impeccable. I am certainly looking forward to finishing this book, and am actually having to consciously reign myself in, remembering to write my reactions and notice key points, and stop at the end of the assigned reading so I remember what to talk about, not just forget it all and thirstily read to the end.

  14. Shannon February 12, 2014 at 6:58 am #

    Craving for Love and Death?

    There is a striking theme of Esther wanting and looking for love through out her novel. Esther’s young and exciting life in New York just starts to go downhill when she and the rest of her hall mates became poisoned. She was in a sluggish daze for a while after it had happened and she began to reminisce on some experiences she had with Buddy Willard. Small instances, like her phone ringing in her room when she is not expecting a call, reminded her of when Buddy would call her from Yale and ask to see her. She was confused by his actions, but yet she was madly in love with him. Perhaps she was in love with the idea of him, and the security he would bring to her life. She goes back and forth through time remembering why she never ended up with Buddy. She says, “He was a hypocrite.” (Pg. 52)
    All she ever wanted was someone to love and be loved in return. However, she had such a deep connection with herself and her body that she did not want to let that go to just a random suitor, she believed that she should save herself for someone true and honest. Buddy did not turn out to be true and honest and Esther was torn. Once she found out that he had not saved himself for her the way she had for him, it was over. Time had passed, and he called her once more with unfortunate news. He was diagnosed with TB. When any normal person would feel sorry for someone, Esther felt a sense of joy and relief. She liked the thought of his passing.
    The theme of death is present in almost every chapter of this novel. There is a dark sense to Plath’s writing style. In the very first paragraph of the entire novel Plath states that she, “ couldn’t help wondering what it would be like, being burned alive all along your nerves.”(Pg.1) Her writing shows that she must frequently be thinking about death and how it would affect her. Contemplating the different ways that her life could be taken. Plath also uses imagery to explain exactly the way she is feeling, and she is usually feeling disturbed. An example of a distraught sentence that Plath uses to describe Esther’s panic is, “…the glittering white torture-chamber tiles under my feet and over my head on all four sides closed in and squeezed me to pieces.” (Pg. 44) Another theme that is present through out the novel is the dark and cold ocean. Plath mentions this dark body of water in some of her chapters and the way she refers to it is always in a negative manner. In the very beginning of chapter 5 she blends the theme of the dark water and death together when she metaphorically states, “ slowly I swam up from the bottom of a black sleep.” The eight of the ocean crushing down on her, while she is drowning and sinking lower to the bottom. Love and death are two conflicting ideas, but both equally intrigue Plath and it seems that Esther’s character is desperate for both.

  15. Tony February 12, 2014 at 7:18 am #

    First off I would like to start by noting that the food poisoning that the girls had from the feast at the Ladies’ Day was not caused by ptomaine. Ptomaine is actually a protein that is decomposed by bacteria especially in the tissue of a dead animal and it was believed that this protein would cause food poisoning but in reality if the crab was cooked improperly it could have been the bacteria Vibrio cholera that caused the food poisoning.
    Biology aside, in these three chapters I was awestruck. At first I could not understand why she was still talking with Buddy and playing along with the act that they were still a couple. Esther always seemed to be extremely assertive. Then as I finished chapter six I realized that she still cares for Buddy and that the line that separates love and hatred is thinner than a page of paper. She made emotions spill out of the page when Buddy took her on a tour of the hospital. The joy of being with someone where love was mutual pulled some many strings it practically made a song. Then there was the birth of the child, the imagery of the woman that was giving birth. It was hauntingly descriptive like the part where the C. section is performed and she paints the scissors cutting into the woman’s flesh so well that I could almost feel myself behind the scissors. To counteract this life-giving yet cold, traumatizing moment she goes on to explain how she depicts how the birth of her first child would play out and fills the reader with warm emotions. After she returns to the present and receives a call from Buddy explaining that he has TB she writes that she did not feel sorry that he had TB but relieved and that TB was a just punishment for leading a double life.
    Esther seems to have an aversion to some men and it may have begun with Buddy. When she was asking Buddy how many times he had slept with the waitress she said that she froze up. Earlier when she and Buddy were watching the woman giving birth and she was “making … unhuman whooing noise.”(Plath, 60), Buddy explains that the woman was given a drug that would cause her to forget all the pain. On the next paragraph Esther in a definitive tone writes that it was just the sort of drug a man would make to have the woman forget all the terrible pain of labor only to have a “… long, blind, doorless and windowless corridor of pain … open up and shut her in again.” (Plath, 61). There was also the part where Buddy would quote what his mother said what a woman was and what a man was, which always favored the patriarch and when Esther would argue with buddy he would dismiss it by stating facts that could be false. I am not sure if this theory will go anywhere but it is a thought.

  16. Macey Roehrick February 12, 2014 at 7:57 am #

    Throughout these three chapters, the relationship between Buddy Willard and Esther seems to be developing rather quickly except for the fact that Esther cannot seem to grasp the concept. Their smoldering romance buds, blooms, and begins to wilt all within a matter of three chapters. At first, I thought that Buddy Willard might be Esther’s version of Ted Hughes, but then him studying to be a doctor didn’t seem to add up, so I crossed that out of my possible list of theories. Esther felt “depressed” when seeing Buddy naked, who feels depressed in that situation, just posing the question… Her emotions seem misconstrued to me, as if she feels awkward fitting into society and it shows through in her writing. It seems as if she is almost not adapted to be able to survive life, if that makes any sense, still trying to develop that thought.
    It didn’t seem as if she was using Buddy, but almost keeping him around as a prop. Once, the girl that was insecure because she was the youngest on her floor, the one always getting picked on, and made to answer the phone, well now that girl had a new boyfriend that went to Yale and she was going to attend the Junior Prom with him, so her luck looks as if it was changing. This invite gave her every reason to feel good about herself because no longer were they picking on her anymore and even though shortly after he fell ill, his illness only made her better liked. Though she may not have deep, intense feelings for Buddy Willard, why not keep him around to keep her rightfully earned good name with her floor?
    On page 55, Esther begins to explain the story of the Jewish man and the nun, of how the two watched baby birds hatch out of a bird’s nest, only for the nun never to return to pick figs with the Jewish man again. A “mean-faced” Catholic kitchen maid was now taking the place of the nun and she insisted that she count up the figs that the man picked, which made him very angry. Does that sound like a lovely story to you? Esther proceeds to say, “I thought it was a lovely story, especially the part about the fig tree in winter under the snow and then the fig tree in spring with all the green fruit.” Out of that entire story, that was the last thing that I picked up on were the changes in the fig trees throughout the different seasons. This could be totally off, but this struck a chord with me because I immediately remembered her poem about blackberries and how these blackberries were metaphors for something, for life, for people. It seems as if in a way this kind of resembles her writing style, she enjoys creating metaphors for things that are true in her life. And even though that story had a dark ending, or for lack of better words, not a happy one, she found beauty and light in such things as the fig trees. Maybe, even though she is a swirling mess of emotions, there are dark parts to her, but essentially happy parts as well, there is beauty to her and a light that shines in her, but she can’t find any other way of expressing it except for on the page behind a guise.

  17. Kyle Mitchell February 12, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    Ester and Buddy have an extremely complicated past, and relationship at this point in The Bell Jar. Shortly after Ester gets food poisoning, she informs us about her past with Buddy. Ester was obsessed with Buddy in the past but now loathes him. Buddy took Ester to the Yale Junior Prom and Ester brags to her roommates that they are dating and practically engaged. After the prom buddy got naked before her. They exchange words about sex and about Ester removing her cloths as well. Ester confesses that she is saving herself for marriage, and asks Buddy if he too is a virgin. He explains about his affairs with Gladys.
    Ester as a middle class attractive girl is pressured by society to settle down start a family and become the average everyday house wife. . Ester’s mother and Mrs. Willard especially believe that Ester and Buddy should be together. And Ester would agree until she got to know him better. This thought of marrying buddy depresses Ester, because that means she would have to give up her love of writing. Ester believes that she cannot have both a career and a relationship with buddy. Buddy and Ester’s relationship becomes very interesting. There is a scene where a Jewish man and a nun meet. They brush hands and there is a connection. However the next day the nun does not come out to see the Jew. Ester couldn’t but help to see the connection between the Jew and nun, and buddy and herself. There is also a scene where buddy and Ester watch a birth. The use of drugs and birth bothered Ester, but she kept it to herself and refrained from telling Buddy. This poses the question to the reader if that is a contributing factor to not wanting to get married along with not wanting to give up her love to write. Finally we dissect the scene where buddy gets naked before Ester and her reaction to the moment. Ester simply does not find the sexual encounter appealing. Rather she begins to think about turkey necks and gizzards. This to me is very unusual because most girls of this age love the sexual attention and the feelings these kinds of encounters bring. This section brings me to think about the psychological side and what it going on in her brain during this experience. She could be suffering from a lack of Dopimine, which tells you brain that something is pleasurable, or a lack of Nurepinephrine. Nurepinephrine is involved with arousal, mood, depression and stress. It is led to believe that Ester (Sylvia Plath) was suffering from a lack of Nurepinephrine.
    I find these chapters to be almost an ode to Ester and Buddy’s relationship. After all that happened between the two I can’t but see these chapters being anything else. From the conversations about marriage, the implied themes of love that can never be with the nun and Jew. And the sexual encounter that Ester and Buddy shared. In my view these are all but leading up to a greater theme of depression and the inability to find love.

  18. Andrea February 12, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    Ester has a very dark and morbid outlook on life. Most of chapter three is concerned with vomiting and being sick, which I feel goes a long with the tone of the novel. She seems to feel the most normal when bad things are happening to her. She feels the most out of place when it comes to getting gifts or doing “normal” things. Doreen and Ester have what I would call a “frienemy” relationship. She states in the first reading assignment that the things Doreen says is almost like “a secret voice speaking out of my own bones”, yet she doesn’t agree with Doreen all the time and sometimes finds her distasteful. At the end of chapter 4, they are laughing together.
    Ester has a hard time getting herself excited about most things. She is always wishing for something amazing to happen to her and seems disappointed when her fantasies don’t happen. She talks about how she wishes the interpreter was handsome and passionately loved her and then counteracts with “he is probably short and ugly”. She continues to get her hopes up and then bring herself back down before she can become disappointed. She gets a strange satisfaction knowing that she’s never really given a man her heart. She is very guarded. It seems that she only wanted Buddy when he didn’t want her. Once he wanted her, she lost interest in him. She also has a hard time telling people her real feelings. She constantly thinks harsh things about people, yet says the polite, nice thing to their face. She constantly has conversations with Buddy in her head where she answers sharply as opposed to vaguely. She’s scared of hurting people’s feelings, being proven wrong or disappointed. She says she tries not to expect things for other people so she’s not disappointed. That shows someone who has little faith in herself or other people. This shows someone who has been let down over and over again.
    She is having trouble adjusting to life around people with money. The customs are different and she does not really understand tipping. She figures she could easily do these things herself so why should she have to pay more. She is able bodied and has yet to fall into the laziness of rich people. She finds it hard to adapt socially in New York because she grew up so different.
    Ester describes child birth as a very morbid, horrible event. She does not make it sound as though it is the miracle of life. When she talks about how the drug is something a man would invent, it shows her disdain for men. She has little faith in their humanity or the good in them. She thinks It’s normal for a man to trick a woman into thinking she did not have any pain, just to repeat the pain again. She is disappointed in Buddy for falsely making her feel sexier and more experienced than him. She’s not jealous or emotionally upset. She is annoyed that she was deceived. She felt special, which is uncommon for Ester.

  19. Faith E. February 12, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    In reading chapters 4-6, I couldn’t help but observe how Esther Greenwood struggles with the rolls of men and women in society. The first sign I saw of her struggle with men was after she got off the phone with Constantine and was contemplating her expectations of what this simultaneous interpreter would be like. She judged Constantine, a man she had never met, based on her experience with another man: Buddy Willard. She says, “I would come to look down on him in the end the way I looked down on Buddy Willard (52).” This seemed unfair to me, because she doomed Constantine to a fate below herself without really getting the chance to know him. Just one page later, she treats the bellhop—a man just doing his job—with little respect. When she is called out she makes excuses for not tipping him such as, he seemed eager, and its his job, and not finally not having change. Then she tells Doreen this: “I hate handing over money to people for doing what I could just as easily do myself…(54).” Is it possible that she is struggling with the rolls of men and women in society? Is it hard for her to allow a man to carry a bag that she is fully capable of carrying? I think what bothered her more than the simple act of the bellhop carrying her bags, was the expectation placed by society that she needed to pay that man for his help. It is interesting to see how she is judgmental of men in general. An example of this is the medical student that she meets when she is with Buddy after the lecture. While he does make somewhat of a rude comment out loud, she thinks far ruder things of him like how only a “mother love a fat man,” and how he wont have a woman kiss him because of his belly (64). The pattern I am seeing, is that she is judging the men around her, before even giving them a chance to really prove themselves different then her preconceived view of manhood. Out of these four men, the only one that she really knows is Buddy. He has really tainted her view of manhood from what I have read so far. Based on her experiences with Buddy Willard, she has generalized a prescription for what “men” are like. We see this generalization after she sees the drugged woman give birth in the hospital. She says, “I thought it sounded just like the sort of drug a man would invent (66).” In this situation, much like the situation with the bellhop, she is being threatened by the societal norms of womanhood. In this chapter not only does she confide in us her fear of having children, but also her distaste in for getting married. She tells us she wouldn’t even marry Buddy if he was the last man on earth regardless of what other people expect. I can also see that she is starting to get very frustrated with the double standard that she sees in society between men and woman. For example, why is the male medical student allowed to be fat, while the pregnant woman has spindly legs? And why is it okay for Buddy to be a hypocrite about his lack of purity, while is told to stay a virgin for a “clean boy” like Buddy. I can really see her disillusionment beginning to grow.

  20. Shylah February 12, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    I am someone who is new to Sylvia Plath’s work and before I did research on Plath I had never been familiar with her life or work. So I believe that speaks strongly for my point that I feel that Plath has so much connection to Esther that I literally forgot at on point in the book that this is a novel. I had been reading and someone asks Esther a question and I had immediately thought to myself, “wait, who is that?” Plath’s voice breathes strongly through the pages about Esther’s thoughts and quirkiness. There are similarities between Plath and Esther, both experience the death of their fathers as young girls, and a mother who works hard to support her family. So, I guess I questioned myself as to why didn’t Plath edit and consider this her autobiographical book? Well there were the obvious reasons, such as, women in that era did not write about personal experiences and she did not want to hurt those she did speak about in the book. As I continued to ponder I came to the conclusion that “The Bell Jar” just would not have the same affect on readers if it was an autobiography. I think we have a fascination with Plath, she keeps us in the dark where we want more and we like that in some strange way.
    I think that Esther is before her time in the way she thinks. In the fifties there was such a mold around how a young woman should act and Esther seems to be thinking like a young girl of modern time. I love when she is describing the movie premiere, I think up until that point we had seen a more insecure side of Esther. When reading the description I could sense the peculiar feeling that Esther was having even before she had stated it. I like seeing the side of Esther where she describes jocks as boneheads, and why she hates technicolor. Her viewpoint in that time was uncommon and I admire that about her. We also see a small glimpse of Esther’s more innocent side, it was cute to see that she was confused about the baby peeing in the doctor’s face, this reminded me that she must be young and although very smart she is sheltered from situations that are not a part of her everyday life.
    Within these last three chapters that I’ve read I can see why even now, so many years later why people can relate to this book. Plath had been so honest and transparent with her feelings that it shows through “The Bell Jar”. It is hard to be vulnerable especially through writing. Esther’s thoughts are ones that have been similar to my own, the book is written perfectly in my opinion. Plath gives us this young women who has conversations and gets distracted by her thoughts, and then that gets interrupted by dialogue. She has created Esther to be this person that everyone can relate to but in a time when nobody wanted to admit it.

  21. Mariah Duenas February 12, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    While reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, I realized how descriptive Plath is in her writing. The way Esther describes the things around her is so poetic, and it leaves me wanting more. The vocabulary and the descriptions of both the people and the city are so wonderfully crafted that it doesn’t seem real, it is as if Esther is living in a dream. In chapter four, Esther is describing how she is cleaning herself up after dinner using the finger bowl that the waitress at ‘Ladies’ Day’ brought her: “Then I wiped each finger carefully with my linen napkin which was still quite clean. Then I folded the linen napkin and laid it between my lips and brought my lips down on it precisely” (40). The elegant way she describes Esther makes me feel as if I can see her doing this.
    Later in chapter four, when Ester is sick, she talks about how it no longer feels like summer to her: “I could feel the winter shaking my bones and banging my teeth together, and the big white hotel towel I had dragged down with me lay under my head numb as a snowdrift” (45). The descriptive words of winter shaking in her bones is such an accurate portrayal of how one would feel if they were awfully sick. I feel as though I know exactly what she is going through, and it makes me wish I could help her. Ester also describes the crab meat that we are told is what made her and the other girls sick and as she describes the various ways the meat was prepared, it made me feel sick to my stomach knowing that is what made her and the others so sick. The power of her words is so strong, because it actually drew a physical response out of me, her reader.
    Plath’s descriptive writing aids in bringing the reader into the story. While reading these chapters I felt as if I was actually there in the cab with Ester and Betsy. The way that she writes about Esther being sick and the lack of fluidity between her thoughts as she drifts in and out of consciousness brings up memories of times where I have been so sick and unable to comprehend the things around me, and it made me feel as though Ester is real, she is human. I am able to connect with Plath’s writing in different ways. Because she brings me into the story, although I have never been to New York, and I have never spent time with Esther, I feel as if I have because of the writing. Everything is so elaborate that it feels like she is describing a dream, and all the things are perfect in their own way.
    So far I am thoroughly enjoying this novel, I feel as though I can connect with the characters and the city although I have not met them or visited the city. Plath’s descriptive writing is helpful to readers because it make the story so much more real. If Ester didn’t describe things the way that she does, this book would be dry and hard to read. The word choice in this novel is amazing, and keeps me wanting more.

  22. Danielle Foy February 12, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    Esther is out of place in New York, and she knows it. She comes from a different background than the other girls. She is trying to learn from the girls on how to act “properly,” and she is not exactly nailing it. She talks about how the first time she saw a fingerbowl, she thought it was “some clear sort of Japanese after-dinner soup and [she] ate every bit of it, including the crisp little blossoms” (41). She is not a refined as the other girls, and she doesn’t do a good job of covering that up.

    After the Ladies’ Day banquet, Esther, Betsy, and some of the girls went to the movies. Esther found the movie to be completely boring and found all the girls who were enthralled by it to be idiots. She started to not feel well, so she and Betsy left the theater and headed back to their hotel. Esther mentioned “There is nothing like puking with somebody to make you into old friends” (44). This line amused me because I think that is somewhat true. If you go through something that you would not willingly go through with most people, you have a sort of bond with this person that cannot be taken away. Even if you don’t end up being friends, you still have an experience together that no one can take away from you and that you cannot replicate with someone else.

    Up until the end of chapter five, I was enjoying what Esther was writing and I was amused by it. But then at the end of the chapter, I was suddenly confused by what she was saying. She kept calling Buddy Willard a hypocrite and said that is why she decided she no longer liked him. The reason for him being a hypocrite was because “he didn’t have the honest guts to admit it straight off to everybody and face up to it as part of his character” (72). I think that she is lying when she says this. I think the fact that Buddy had actually slept with someone else, multiple times no less, bothered her more than she wanted it to and more than she could admit, so instead of being mad at herself, she found a way to blame Buddy. I think she had hoped that she would be the first person he would sleep with and when she found out that she wouldn’t be, it was too much for her to have to bare. I think she broke off contact with him because she would never be able to look at him the same way and she definitely couldn’t be with him after he had slept with someone else. This is the reason that she talks down about him so often. She is trying to convince herself that she does not like him when in fact she does. She figures that the more and more she degrades him, the less important he will be to her.

    I don’t think Buddy is a hypocrite because I don’t think that he ever saw Esther in the same light that she was putting herself into. I think since she had feelings for him, she wanted him to see her as someone important as well. I think that he had started to see her in the way she wanted him almost too late. By the time he realized that he had feelings for her, he had already told her about the waitress he had slept with and she was put off by it. Esther was quick to judge Buddy for what he had done and decided that it would be best to not see him anymore. By calling him a hypocrite, she is really just trying to pinpoint the blame on someone else so she doesn’t have to feel guilty about being such a judgmental person.

  23. Roberto Lucha February 12, 2014 at 10:10 pm #

    Esther’s interpretation of events in chapter 4 could be construed as attempts to control the events in the bell jar. Although she doesn’t mention it, she wants to control the Bell Jar so she can succeed and be happy – in control of your own destiny. In it we see situations that could go one way or another. She emphasizes how successful she was. In the opening of chapter 4 she says” I don’t know just why my successful evasion of chemistry should have (notice the italicizing stops) floated into my mind there in Jay Cees office. “ Her mother gave her pragmatic advice such as have a practical skill as well as a college degree. Esther runs through these thoughts as though it was obligatory, and that was the only way to approach situations.
    Esther’s use of color throughout the chapters is a vivid example of how she sees, and how she wants you to see. She mentions lilac-gloved hand patting her shoulder. The lilac covered hand also tells her “ Don’t let the wicked city get you down. The movie which was a football romance, showed a scene with 2 girls waving and cheering with orange chrysanthemums the size of cabbages on their chests (Sylvia says it was on their lapel). She contrasts a blond with a sexy black haired haired girl who looked like Elizabeth Taylor. This leads me to believe that Esther had black hair, and probably Sylvia too!
    In the movie Esther went to see with her friend, she points out that it is in Technicolor and she hates Technicolor. Is this perhaps a clue that tells you they (Technicolor) do not portray things like she sees them? She banishes Technicolor from The Bell Jar.
    Chapter 6 is a pivotal point in the book. She is so exited about being on campus with her Doctor. She is quite proud of herself about the calm way she stared at all these gruesome things. She went on to observe a childbirth. With the day winding down they went to Buddys’ room. Esther is ecstatic reading her poems for Buddy. She goes from the highlight of reading her poems to his cold and clinical question” have you ever seen a man?” She narrates it step by step, until he says ”I think you ought to get use to me like this. Now let me see you.”
    At that point Esther makes a decision. Why should I, who love reading and writing, put my life on hold while you get to marry me and continue with your illustrious career? Why? Esther thinks buddy deceived him by portraying himself as pure. Buddy was groomed to have a wife that does not aspire to anything beyond wifely duties and motherhood. This is illustrated when Mrs. Willard explains to buddy “what a man is is an arrow into the future, and what a woman is is the place the arrow shoots off from. It is very apparent that Esther cannot, and will not be the place where the arrow shoots off from.

  24. Nadav Soroker February 13, 2014 at 12:02 am #

    Mrs. Plath opens chapters 3-6 of The Bell Jar with very visceral illness, collapse and rest. This frames a scene that shows how hard it is for women to stand equal with men in the sixties. From the very beginning she is with Jay Cee, her editor, someone she looks up to. She says she wishes she had a mother who was as forward thinking and decisive, but instead her mother had to work a menial job, “ever since my father died, and she secretly hated it and hated him for dying and leaving no money…” (39). Her mother had wanted to be a housewife and raise Esther rather than be a working woman so Esther regrets this.

    The scene starts initially in the crowded theater, packed full of “stupid moonbrains” (42) where Esther Greenwood starts to feel awful and at first it seems to be internal. Before this she had described bouts of claustrophobia and ennui, both of which left her feeling ill, but this is the first time that she seems to get actually ill and it is interesting to how she says she seems to bond with someone over it, “There is nothing like puking with somebody to make you into old friends.” (44). Despite this she seems more enthusiastic about seeing Doreen when she gets back later. It is

    This seems to capture the difficulty she has with making friends and parallels in later chapters with the seniors in her dormitory who see her more as a gopher who is frequently sent to retrieve the phone and then all of a sudden and “oddly enough” she gets more respect from the seniors of her dormitory floor. That this respect is earned not for her actions or studies, but because a man has taken an interest in her and invited her to Junior Prom confuses her a bit. I think that the standard that it places upon women as dependant upon a man to define themselves is not a concept that she readily accepts.

    This uneasiness further coalesces when she is with Buddy Willard and they watch the woman give birth. She comments on how they use, “The sort of drug a man would invent.” (66) The drug being one that perpetuates the patriarchal system of having a woman that who, “would go straight home and start another baby…” (66) while allowing men to do more interesting things like be doctors.

    Her overall attitude towards Willard is mostly one of confusion as she sees him as such an insignificant person, someone who is just breezing by on a predetermined path, not doing much of anything exceptional. Despite this she sees him make huge waves in her life, with just the most casual of actions, for the sole reason of society having placed more importance upon him. He could undress or sleep around, He could drop by and invite her on a date, He can make her entire dorm respect her and she can’t do any of this because she is a woman and that frustrates her.

  25. Jessica February 19, 2014 at 8:34 am #

    Sylvia Plath has a lot to say. She is one of those quite people with a million thoughts racing through her head never for anyone to hear. Her mind is realistic and I personally can relate to her secretive ways, selfishly holding her deepest thoughts close in her arms. She is living a life that does not allow for any abstract thoughts but only the words and beliefs that fit into the world of fashions, men, and parties. These words are completely opposite of her. She is a woman that strikes me as, if she could, she would walk around naked baring her true self for all to see (in a moderate, shy way of course). She is a woman who wants to rebel against men and the differences society has created between the two sexes. She is a woman who walks into a party and blocks out all the nonsense only to allow focus on the things that matter like a potential love that would take her breath away. I would say she is just as sane as the rest of us but is not afraid to look upon the world is a realistic manner. She is a woman who is lucky because she fights against the restraints society places and see’s the world for it’s truth that so many sweep under the rug. It truly is beautiful how she removes herself from all the chaos amongst her. I picture her standing in the middle of a busy crowd in a silent and still pose, and screaming as loud as she could only to engulfed in nothingness hearing nothing but the sound of silence itself. Sylvia Plath is going along for the ride whether she agrees or not and that is something a lot of people tend to do in their day-to-day life. We forget to slow down see the sweetness in doing absolutely nothing, which is what Sylvia, craves. All she wants is to find a passionate love with a man who wants to embrace life and embrace her as a woman. Not conforming to the society but writing endless poems of the eerie stillness around her and living a life that is simple yet complex in it’s own way. She is a woman with many questions and will not simply accept something because it’s what is best to do. What is the best? Why be like everyone else when you can travel a different path? Defining her own life is something she strives to do and looking at observations in the opposite way most would is where the beauty is found through her eyes.

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