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How does the author's treatment of relationships effect the characterisation of the heroines in

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Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know How does the author's treatment of relationships effect the characterisation of the heroines in "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath and "Quicksand" by Nella Larsen? This essay will compare the ways in which the novels "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath and "Quicksand" by Nella Larsen deal with relationships, paying particular attention to how this aids the characterisation of Esther Greenwood and Helga Crane, the central characters respectively. It will explore their relationships with other characters in the novel, especially how the authors use relationships to fulfil their writing aims. It will also discuss the relationship between the protagonist and the reader, and how successfully this is achieved through the novel's language. Finally, it will attempt to compare the ways in which they relate to the world around them, which is particularly fascinating as although both novels could pass as fiction, they are largely autobiographical, raising the question of why the author's chose to tell their own life stories in this relatively detached way. The relationship between the reader and the central character is directly affected by the style of the narration, and is fundamental in understanding the author's intentions. "The Bell Jar" is written in the first person, providing the reader with intimate access to Esther's every feeling, using past tense and speaking in a reflective, conversational tone. ...read more.


back quite sharply, instead of just sitting around and saying 'I guess so'", an example of her double identity, synonymous with other admissions such as "year after year of doubleness and smiles and compromise"3, "but of course I never came right out and said so", and "but when I hung up I didn't feel one bit sorry. I only felt a wonderful relief". This habit of outwardly expressing one thing when feeling the opposite on the inside is easy to denounce in others but is something that many people are guilty of, therefore by exposing this tenuous relationship between the private self and the public self, Plath is encouraging the reader to engage with Esther's internal dialogue and consider whether this could in fact apply to their own lives. This approach of trying to force the reader to question his or her own lives can be found in "Quicksand", as although many people may be disappointed with Helga when settles for the Reverend, and may wish for her to have taken the a risk and pursued further her feelings towards Robert Anderson, we are nevertheless able to recognise this tendency to take the easy route in our own lives; to live life regretting having not followed your heart for fear that the consequences may be difficult or socially unacceptable, is arguably not to live at all - yet most people will admit to being guilty of this. ...read more.


In conclusion, although these novels are thematically different, the way in which the author's deal with relationships can appear rather similar, for example the important role that relationships play in understanding the author's intentions, and also in expressing their ideas. In "The Bell Jar", it is Esther's analytical, introspective approach to relationships that exposes her neurotic character, which the reader is able to fully appreciate due to the personal narrative technique, which is why Plath's writing is so psychologically captivating. This too can be said of "Quicksand", although the effect on the reader is perhaps not as definitive, as the character is arguably less rounded, less developed and less realistic as she we do not delve as deeply into her psyche as we do that of Esther Greenwood's. 1 Plath, Sylvia, The Bell Jar, William Heinemann Limited, 1966, p230 2 Plath, Sylvia, The Bell Jar, William Heinemann Limited, 1966, p93 3 Plath, Sylvia, The Bell Jar, William Heinemann Limited, 1966, p93 4 Plath, Sylvia, The Bell Jar, William Heinemann Limited, 1966, p1-2 5 Plath, Sylvia, The Bell Jar, William Heinemann Limited, 1966, p76 6 Larsen, Nella, Quicksand, 1928, Alfred A. Knopf, p8 7 Larsen, Nella, Quicksand, 1928, Alfred A. Knopf, p43 8 Larsen, Nella, Quicksand, 1928, Alfred A. Knopf, p64 Nikki Spalding (Doug Field) ...read more.

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