• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sylvia Plath section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sylvia Plath essays

  1. How is Sylvia Plath's life reflected in the poems

    In July 1962, Sylvia Plath discovered that Hughes was having an affair with Assia Wevill. The couple separated that September then. On February 11th, 1963, Sylvia Plath committed suicide, dying by carbon monoxide poisoning from her gas oven. Plath's inner conflicts made her feel inferior toward men, primarily her husband.

  2. Compare the ways in which Plath uses imagery and description in Mirror and Blackberrying, ...

    This is noted when he talks of the "lust for Picking" for it is as a bloodlust would be to "summer's blood". The next clever uses of words after this comes a few lines down when he entwines compound words into his lines to create the feeling that they used everything they could "Sent us out with milk-cans, pea-tins, jam-pots".

  1. To what extent are the women in the following poems ‘trapped’? ‘Afternoons’, ‘Mirror’ and ...

    Change in the poem is very gradual, the verbs ending in 'ing' indicates this. It gives the effect of change creeping over them. My Grandmother: Elizabeth Jennings wrote the poem 'My Grandmother' which reflects the difficult experiences of her life.

  2. Frozen Eyes -Explore and analyse the use of imagery of death and violence in ...

    In Stan Smith's words: 'the bourgeois ego has been shaped', as Plath's 'scars', provide an 'emblem' to 'freedom'. This freedom is represented through Plath's breakthrough from objectification, as she makes her 'skin and bone', the images she examines and not nature.

  1. An essay on the Comparison of two poems dealing with intense emotions

    You can also see that she was trapped in another part of the poem, it is spread over two stanza's, this shows enjambment. 'Ghastly statue with one grey toe/ Big as a Frisco seal/ And a head in the freakish Atlantic/where it pours bean green over blue/ in the waters off beautiful Nauset'.

  2. The three poems I have chosen to compare are 'A Parental Ode To My ...

    This is very rude to say, since as she gave birth to Catrin, after 'fighting' over that 'red rope of love' that they are still fighting. The mother then makes another bad mannered statement about her daughter making her sound very plain and detached: ...still I am fighting You off,

  1. A response to 'Daddy' and 'Digging'.

    into the world, despite her apparent hatred; 'Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through.' Perhaps for Plath, love and hate aren't opposites at all. A lack of communication surfaces in both poems, and with 'Daddy', the speaker 'could never talk to you', the black telephone's off at the root, The voices just can't worm through'.

  2. Critical response to "Behaviour of Fish in an Egyptian Tea-Garden".

    Also another comparison is that a stone is smooth and round; perhaps this is referring to the woman's figure or personality. One last comparison is that a stone is hard; this indicates that the woman is hard to get and confident, proving that she will not be as easy a catch for the fish surrounding her!

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work