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The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar

by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar Analysis

Literary Devices in The Bell Jar

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

It's pretty obvious from the title that the bell jar is a huge symbol in the book. So huge that it deserves its own section. So we're listing the bell jar under "Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory" just...

Setting

The main action of the story takes place in the summer of 1953. After an internship at a magazine in New York City, Esther ends up in her hometown outside Boston, where she attempts to commit suici...

Narrator Point of View

All the events in The Bell Jar are filtered through the main character, Esther Greenwood. It's as if we're parked directly inside her head, hearing all of her thoughts, seeing everything that she s...

Genre

The Bell Jar falls squarely in the category of coming-of-age fiction. It traces the path of Esther Greenwood, the main character and narrator, as she undergoes a critical period in her life where s...

Tone

Told from Esther's point-of-view, The Bell Jar is saturated with her cynicism toward the hypocrisy, sexism, and conventionalism of American society. Since the novel is written from Esther's perspec...

Writing Style

The Bell Jar reads like an e-mail from your coolest friend – clever without being pretentious, funny without trying too hard, sarcastic but not mean. There are some quotable lines in the book...

What's Up With the Title?

If you zoned out in class when your physics teacher brought out the bell jar, that's OK. In fact, it might be useful just to imagine what a bell jar is. Perhaps a jar shaped like a bell? Shaped lik...

What's Up With the Ending?

The Bell Jar closes just as Esther enters her exit interview at the psychiatric institution where she has spent the past few months recovering. Since the novel stops there, we can't know for sure w...

Tough-o-Meter

The Bell Jar is very readable and often very funny. Some might, however, balk at the dark subject matter – a young woman's attempted suicide and subsequent recovery.

Plot Analysis

Esther Greenwood works as an intern at a women's magazine in New York City, but she feels an overwhelming sense of alienation and despair.As the novel opens, Esther has everything a young woman cou...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Intelligent and talented, Esther resists the pressure to conform to the traditional model of what a young woman should be: chaste, docile, and obsessed with finding a husband who will provide her w...

Three Act Plot Analysis

Esther experiences a series of crises in the summer before her senior year in college that lead her to contemplate suicide.After a few half-hearted attempts at suicide, Esther attempts to kill hers...

Trivia

Sylvia Plath originally published The Bell Jar in London under a pseudonym, Victoria Lucas. She did not want the novel published in America in her mother's lifetime because of its potentially hurtf...

Steaminess Rating

While there's a lot of talk about sex in the book, it's not necessarily steamy. Esther's encounters with men involve some violence (as when Marco the "woman-hater" attacks her) and some humor (as w...

Allusions

E.E. Cummings, " somewhere I have never travelled, gladly beyond " (6.38)James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (10.129-34)Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts (13.8)Julius Rosenberg and Ethel Rosenberg (1.1 and throughout)

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