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The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar

by Sylvia Plath

Women and Femininity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #7

The trouble was, I hated the idea of serving men in any way. I wanted to dictate my own thrilling letters. (7.14)

Here, Esther explains her resistance to learning shorthand, a secretarial skill, from her mother. Shorthand is contrasted with creative writing, which is an expression of her own individuality.

Quote #8

The last thing I wanted was infinite security and to be the place an arrow shoots off from. I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket. (7.65)

In this passage, Esther rejects Mrs. Willard's views (see Quote #6). Instead of having her future defined by long years of fawning over a husband, Esther wants to open up her horizons and explore the possibilities.

Quote #9

I pulled up a chair opposite [Miss Norris] at the table and unfolded a napkin. We didn't speak, but sat there, in a close, sisterly silence, until the gong for supper sounded down the hall. (15.65)

At the psychiatric institution, Esther identifies particularly with Miss Norris, a patient who is described as something of a spinster, with a plain dress buttoned up to her chin and her hair arranged in a "schoolmarmish" bun (15.54). Miss Norris's silence could represent the way women's needs and desires are silenced by society, perhaps explaining Esther's "sisterly" identification with her.

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