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The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar


by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar Chapter 11 Summary

  • Esther arrives at Doctor Gordon's office. She hasn't showered in three weeks, and she hasn't slept for a week.
  • Dr. Gordon asks Esther what she thinks is wrong. Esther, who instantly dislikes Dr. Gordon, tells him how she hasn't slept for a week and hasn't been able to read or write.
  • Esther doesn't tell him about her handwriting problem. Earlier that morning, she had tried to write a letter to Doreen but for some reason, her handwriting had come out distorted and childlike.
  • Dr. Gordon asks Esther what college she attends. Esther replies, and Dr. Gordon tells her he used to be the college physician there before the war.
  • And that's the end of their first session.
  • Unsurprisingly, Esther doesn't feel any better.
  • Esther goes out to the Boston Common, where she's picked up by a Navy sailor. She tells him her name is Elly Higginbottom, from Chicago.
  • As they walk around the Common, Esther thinks she sees Mrs. Willard and pushes the sailor away. But it's only a woman who looks like Mrs. Willard.
  • Esther lies to the sailor and says that she thought the woman was a woman from the orphanage where she grew up. Esther cries on the sailor's shoulder.
  • Esther is back at Dr. Gordon's office. This time she throws the pieces of the letter she had tried to write to Doreen on his desk. He asks to speak to her mother while Esther waits outside in the car.
  • When Esther's mother comes out, Esther asks her what Dr. Gordon said. Her mother tells her that Dr. Gordon wants her to get electroshock therapy at a private hospital in Walton.
  • Later, Esther sits at the Public Garden, reading about an attempted suicide in a scandal sheet.
  • She's supposed to go to Dr. Gordon's hospital the next morning. She contemplates running away to Chicago, but instead takes the bus home.

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