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The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar


by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar Transformation Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #4

People and trees receded on either hand like the dark sides of a tunnel as I hurtled on to the still, bright point at the end of it, the pebble at the bottom of the well, the white sweet baby cradled in its mother's belly. (7.117)

Like Quote #3, the image of the baby appears here, only this time in one of Esther's extreme situations. The baby image signals a moment where Esther feels truly alive, even as she risks her life hurtling down a ski slope.

Quote #5

As I paddled on, my heartbeat boomed like a dull motor in my ears.

I am I am I am. (13.53)

So, yeah, Esther thinks her heart is talking to her. A pretty weird way to think about your body, true. But it is interesting that Esther's body is no longer something that she thinks of as a sexual object (see our discussion of this theme under "Sex") or as a baby-making machine (see our discussion of this theme under "Women and Femininity"). It's just her body, pure and simple, reduced to the most essential expression of the fact that she is, that she lives.

Quote #6

Then I saw that my body had all sorts of little tricks, such as making my hands go limp at the crucial second, which would save it, time and again, whereas if I had the whole say, I would be dead in a flash.

I would simply have to ambush it with whatever sense I had left, or it would trap me in its stupid cage for fifty years without any sense at all. (13.62-63)

Here we have another instance where Esther has, well, an out-of-body experience in her own body, as if her body isn't really under her control but has a will of its own. Her body wants to live; she does not.

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