In both The Bell Jar and A Brief History of Time, the authors utilize figurative language. In The Bell Jar, Esther is overcome with a sense of helplessness when she is checked into a mental asylum. In her demented mental state she says, “It wouldn’t have made once scrap of a difference to me, because wherever I at. I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air” (Plath 185). Esther uses a metaphor to compare herself to an object “sitting under a glass bell jar. ” The metaphor of the bell jar is present throughout the course of the novel.
A bell jar is a bell-shaped glass cover used to protect and isplay delicate objects. Esther uses the bell jar as a symbol to convey her feelings of being cut off from the normal world outside of her mental illness. Her comparison to the bell jar reveals that she felt disconnected from others at the height of her depression because the bell jar was keeping her bound to her depression. As a result, her views became distorted because she believes that “wherever [she] sat” she could never escape her depression.
Through the use of this metaphor, it is revealed that Esther feels bound by her depression and does not believe she can recover. At the time, mental illness was not commonly poken of so Esther did not know how to handle her depression. Rejecting attitudes toward people with mental illnesses was common in the 1950’s, where the novel takes place, and these attitudes influence Esther’s own perspective of mental illness. Society’s views suppressed individualistic perspectives as a means of maintaining order. Later in the story, Esther references the bell jar once again and states, “All the heat and fear had purged itself.
I felt surprisingly at peace. The bell jar hung, suspended, a few feet above my head. I was open to the circulating air” (Plath 215). Esther uses another metaphor to compare herself to from the bell jar and finally being released from it. The Bell Jar acts as a metaphor for her depression because she feels restricted by her illness. By describing the bell jar as being “suspended, a few feet above [her] head,” she reveals that she is feeling less tied down by her depression because the jar has been lifted and no longer keeps her locked in it and away from the outside world..
Previously, she felt trapped in the bell jar, but now she finally feels freed from it. She then goes on to state that she “was open to the circulating air. A bell jar provides an environment in which someone is protected or cut off from the outside world, and now that Esther is able to experience the open air she no longer feels trapped. Consequently, it is revealed that her feelings of being trapped were dependent on her own personal feelings and not the interference of others. Throughout the novel, Esther used the bell jar to define her situation.
She needs some sort of story/ concept to define her reality and she also needs a sense of security. The bell jar is that concept for her. In A Brief History of Time, Hawking states “Before 1915, space and time were hought of as a fixed arena in which events took place, but which was not affected by what happened in it” (Hawking 19). Here, the author uses a simile to compare “space and time” to “a fixed arena in which events took place. ” The “fixed arena” within the quote is used to describe space and time as being isolated because it is “fixed” or unable to be compromised or changed.
A “fixed arena” is used to describe a place in which events take place but cannot be altered. Hawking reveals that the concept of space and time is then limited when he goes on to state that “it is not affected by what happened in it,” which eveals that no matter how much space and time changes in reality, because it is in this “fixed arena,” the assumptions people have about space and time do not change. In truth, we gain new factual knowledge of time and space, but people have remained in their old mentality of how space and time works, hence the description that time and space is “fixed.
Space and time are complex concepts many people struggle to grasp and provides another sense of uncertainty among those who are unable to understand it. With the comparison to a fixed arena, it is revealed that many people cannot be convinced that their erspectives on the universe are inaccurate. As a result, one can understand that humans find comfort in certainty and will spend their lifetime in pursuit of it, even if a sense of certain is found in the wrong place. Later in the novel, Hawking tries to describe the second law of thermodynamics in an easy to understand fashion.
Hawking states, The second law of thermodynamics results from the fact that there are always many more disordered states than there are ordered ones. For example, consider the pieces of a jigsaw in a box. There is one, and. only one, arrangement in which the pieces make a omplete picture. On the other hand, there are a very large number of arrangements in which the pieces are disordered and don’t make a picture. (Hawking 71) In attempts simplify the concept of thermodynamics, Hawking uses a metaphor to compare the second law of thermodynamics to the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle in a box in order to explain the law in an easy to understand way.
He describes the law as having “many more disordered states than ordered ones. ” The comparison to jigsaw pieces simplifies the concept because many people have experience with jigsaw puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles are made to have ne “ordered state” or one way that the picture becomes clear, but there are many more ways to have the pieces arranged that do not form the desired picture. Through the use of this metaphor, Hawking indicates that the second law of thermodynamics is complex and was developed from the fact that there are many more “disordered states than there are ordered ones.
As a result, Hawking reveals that there are many ways to understand a concept or perceive things. Many people find the concept of thermodynamics confusing, but by employing this metaphor, Hawking was able to teach others the oncept easily. By using this metaphor to explain the concept of thermodynamics in simple terms, Hawking reveals that humanity is always in pursuit of answers to gain knowledge we do not have. The drive for answers is innate and based off of uncertainty.
Uncertainty is the main factor that guides our search for knowledge because humans find comfort in certainty and spend their lifetime in answers that can provide that certainty. Here, Hawking works to answer questions in regards to physics by explaining complex concepts in simple terms. Within The Bell Jar, Esther uses the metaphor of a bell jar ncasing her life to show how she feels trapped within her mental illness. While it does provide an accurate description of how she feels trapped, Esther uses the metaphor as an excuse as to why she is not recovering.
In all actuality, she could work towards bettering her situation, but the possibilities of improving her situation and the world around her are distorted by her views on her current situation. Throughout the novel, Esther used the bell jar to define her situation because she needed some sort of concept to define her reality. As a result, Esther ended up limiting her opportunities because she was rapped in her view that she was not going to recover from her depression.
She was not open to accept any possibility of recovery and gave in to her insecurities regarding her mental illness. Had she been more open to possibilities, others may have been better able to understand her and treat her illness. Within A Brief History of Time, Hawking uses metaphors to reveal that there are many ways to interpret one thing. Both The Bell Jar and A Brief History of Time reveal that it is important to be open to suggestion from others in order to better understand oneself and the world around them.