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Compare and contrast the ways in which Shakespeare, Plath, and Winterson present characters on the edge of psychological collapse in Hamlet, The Bell Jar and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.

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  • Essay length: 2975 words
  • Submitted: 23/02/2012
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AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison

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Compare and contrast the ways in which Shakespeare, Plath, and Winterson present characters on the edge of psychological collapse.

Hamlet, The Bell Jar and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit all present characters on the edge of psychological collapse. All three texts share the inclusion of female characters on the edge of sanity; the comparable nature of these characters and these texts is possible, owing to their shared themes: which include challenging familial relationships, the struggle for identity and an attempt to retain this identity. However, despite these similarities in the texts, there are several contrasts between them, which offer an opportunity to explore their very individual depictions of psychological collapse.

The Bell Jar by Plath is set against the backdrop of the Red Scare in the USA; the novel opens with Esther's overall fascination with death, which prevails throughout the novel, specifically looking at electrocution: 'it was a queer sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenberg's, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.' Esther's fascination with both the Rosenberg's and electrocution situates her outside of American society because of her obsession. Plath deals with the electro-shock therapy treatment that Esther

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