Analysis of Esther in Bell jar

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How effectively does Plath represent Esther’s ‘Mind under stress’ through her New York experiences?

 Plath presents to us a young woman going through a difficult time of an unstable mental health alongside with the burden of a perfect educational record during the mid nineties in the novel ‘The Bell Jar’. Esther’s ‘mind under stress’ is highlighted throughout the novel by Plath through her various experiences in New York and her narration of them.

In her evening out with Doreen, Plath brings forward Esther’s difficulty with socialising to the reader. Esther uses a fake identity, calling herself ‘Elly Higginbottom’ and finds herself feeling ‘safer’ here we see her insecurities about socialising being highlighted. The fact that she feels ‘safer’ when under a fake identity gives the reader the impression of schizophrenia in Esther’s personality as well as the idea that Esther feels she cannot experience anything exciting with her own identity.

        Esther’s insecurities are further explored as the night goes on and the girls go back to Lenny’s place. The repetition of ‘I felt’ in this part of the novel reflects the extent that Esther is distressed and this is highlighted with her ‘melting into the shadows’ as if she were a part of the setting, with no identity or personality. Plath also describes Esther to be ‘Shrinking to a small back dot’ this imagery mirrors Esther’s mental situation in the novel at this point in time where she is losing her sense of self, her mental health slowly deteriorating. Also Esther describes herself to be ‘a hole in ground’ where everyone is above her and she is in a position where no body notices her, she is buried. The constant reference to negative, demoralising feelings that Esther expresses in this point of the novel reveal that Esther feels out of place anywhere new to her, everything seems to alienate her and these push the reader to further question her mental health and consider the extent to which her mind is under stress.

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        At the Ladies day lunch Esther’s obsession with eating develops the readers perceptions of her mental health. It is noticeable that Esther ‘secretly’ analyses the positions of caviar at the dining table. This shows a competitive Esther when it comes to food as well as picking out, again, her constant state of paranoia. Reasons for this seem to be brought to the reader as we are told of her childhood with her grandfather. Her introductions to ‘titbits’ and the reference to the fact that she was constantly reminded about the price of food in her childhood reveals that it ...

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