Recently I had something happen that really put me off- it keeps me up at night and makes me feel like somehow this is all my fault, even though I know that is not the case. It has caused me to pull away from the people that use to fill my life with happiness and laughter and has consequently, been the reason I run to my room the second I get home every night to take shelter under my sheets. I know that personal pronouns and accounts are not to be used in these, but I know that being able to understand and relate her will only help me.
On Sunday, when the little “organism” fell out of me, after the initial shock and panic had subsided, I could only help but think “what terrible thing it was that I had done”(Plath, 143), just like Esther herself had thought. Even though I had no clue I could possibly be pregnant considering all necessary precautions had been met and there was no way it should have been physically possible, I still feel like I did something to harm the very thing I would have loved the most in my life.
This is what I not only believe, but know, happened to Esther. After being denied to the writing program, Esther suddenly and without any warning from her mind, began spiraling uncontrollably. She thought that she herself had not done enough to ensure her eligibility in the program and consequently, killed the dream of the thing that would have made her happiest. Even though it might just seem like something that is so small, it decided her entire future and was because of that, enough to break the flimsy threads holding her sanity together.
By using the writing program’s denial and an already shaky mental state, Plath creates the perfect storyline and explanation to preview depression and the confinement that it gives life to, only makes people want to furthermore extend the confinement already existing. When depression takes over the mind, it doesn’t simply create sadness but instead convinces the soul that what it wanted to achieve doesn’t matter to anyone else.
This then makes it easier to believe that if nobody wanted that same thing, then why would they want the sadness that accompanies the broken dreams and crushed hopes that now take up the corpse that was once the home of Esther Greenwood. By being secluded, by not seeing her father’s grave and by not being able to emotionally connect with anyone, she not only decides that she doesn’t want to get married but that she wants to die.
For so long, Esther Greenwood was secluded from emotions, friendships, and ultimately the world because of this intrusion and has, as anyone would be able to predict, become emotionally unavailable to not only others but herself. The ending scene of this novel ends as what the average person would call a cliffhanger. I disagree. If I were to go to the doctor and she was to tell me that it is what I already know it is, it wouldn’t create a better ending. How Plath ends it only extends the theme of confinement because ultimately, as much as we don’t want to accept it, knowledge is and isn’t confinement.
We may know things and they might be true to us, but are not necessarily someone else’s truth. By not proving a fool-proof, non arguable and “open response” ending, Plath tras readers in their own imaginations. Certainty in Societal Pressure Being not only a woman in the 1950’s, but a mentally disturbed woman trying to be successful in the professional world in a time not very accepting nor encouraging of such a thing, Esther Greenwood’s debut to the world in New York, all but makes a foundation in the future she wants to create for herself.
Esther attends a school she is very proud of, unlike the co-ed one her mother went to that was full of kids “who couldn’t get scholarships to the big eastern colleges”, where she decides to attend writing school. Brought about by her denial to the program, Esther loses track of the light in her future and after tumbling into a deep and inescapable pit of depression, makes several suicide attempts that ultimately serve as the justification necessary for her placement in the asylum.
As a result to a society that isn’t necessarily accepting of women taking a role in the professional world, Esther, being as easily discouraged as she is, is unable to continue her climb to the top where she has always wanted to be. Esther is not only battling with herself but with a world that is not interested in what she has to offer and because of this, she turns her denial to the program as a denial to herself.
This descend is all but aided by her mother that refuses to believe that her daughter, whom she has forced to repress all negative feelings from the death of her father to the heartbreaking news about not being admitted into the writing program. By her mother not allowing her to properly deal with traumatic situations and negative emotions, Esther is then unable to mentally mature which results in every minor thing that happens to her, feeling so major. If a child is told no, there is a tantrum and the word hate is thrown around like nothing.
When Esther is told no, she throws a tantrum and continually tries to commit suicide. When societal pressure is added in, with the expectations of a proper woman who has it “together”, can manage herself and works as well as any man who had been in that particular field, her expected success rate continues to diminish until it is nothing. Esther Greenwood experienced two forms shock: shock treatment and shocking news. Both leave her asking herself what she did that was so wrong to be doomed to this terrible fate, but only one deserves to be recognized as a depressive.
The pain and confusion Esther got from receiving shock treatment, which was described to feel like death, ironically, has the exact opposite effect that it is originally meant to. Having depression, especially with society being involved in the treatment, since treatment is based off of what society is finding acceptable, it progressively grows worse and worse until ultimately, after many attempts of suicide, her fate is left to a board of people who have no clue as to what could really be going on in her mind.
For it is impossible to treat a subconscious. LITERARY DEFENSE: ESTHER GREENWOOD AND SYLVIA PLATH Task: Create Evidence for the defense of the fictional character Esther Greenwood and her real life creator, Sylvia Plath, having Clinical Depression. Complete a comparative table of symptoms and events using text evidence and citations(below) and write a 1-2 page report either confirming or denying the conjecture that both Sylvia and Esther suffered from clinical depression.
Rationale: In examination of the depressive symptoms within the author, Sylvia Plath, and her autobiographical protagonist, Esther Greenwood, one can more effectively analyze not only the importance of her work within the time it was written, but also discover the significance of the story as a timeless anthem for mental health today. Defense: Explore the signs and symptoms that are displayed in a person with clinical depression and use that as a way to identify specific events and behaviors in both the lives of fictional Esther Greenwood, and real-life Sylvia Plath.
Determine: Based on the behaviors of both Esther Greenwood and Sylvia Plath were they: clinically depressed? correlating characters; could Esther Greenwood be seen as a transparent model of Sylvia Plath? Table of Symptoms and Related Events: Symptom of Clinical Depression Esther Greenwood (event with text evidence) Sylvia Plath (event with text evidence) depressed mood, such as feeling sad, empty, or tearful 114 I felt it was very important not to be recognized I didn’t know how long I had slept, but I felt one big twitch of exhaustion
She describes it as demons inside of her that constantly battle with her good side,so not empty but infested so to say frequent mood swings, tendencies toward impulsivity and a mercurial temperament significantly reduced interest or feeling no pleasure in all or most activities 130 “In a dull flat voice” At roughly nine years of age she stopped believing in the magical things that live in children’s minds but failed to see the magic in anything else.
She turned to writing when she became depressed. significant weight loss when not dieting, weight gain, increase or decrease in appetite 92 Esther gains weight from the insulin treatment she is receiving “Her normally rounded features had become gaunt and by her own account she had lost some 20 lb (9 kg) in weight, though she could still eat a meal with relish when it was cooked for her. insomnia or increased desire to sleep 128 Esther opens up to her about how she can’t sleep or read. “
She suffered badly from insomnia and early waking, relying on a hypnotic to get to sleep. ” either restlessness or slowed behavior can be observed by others 126 Theresa realizes Esther is struggling overwrought, ‘hysterical’ and intensely preoccupied” fatigue or loss of energy She was unable to sleep for so long so of course she had a loss of energy. 28 I hadn’t washed my clothes or hair because it seemed so silly. feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt 225 “In spite of my profound reservations” She was easily plunged into dejection by even the smallest rejection or perceived failure trouble making decisions, or trouble thinking or concentrating She often jumps from one thing to another without any bridge between the two
Friends who at this time helped with the care of her two small children later described her as overwrought, ‘hysterical’ and intensely preoccupied with the breakdown of her marriage, recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or a suicide attempt or attempts 158 Attempts to drown and hang herself Also tries to overdose Her poetry gives concrete and first hand evidence of her attempts. https://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pmc/articles/PMC539515/ https://scholarworks. iu. edu/journals/index. php/plath/article/download/20638/26686 http://eaglefeather. nors. unt. edu/2010/article/54 http://airshipdaily. com/blog/022620145-writers-mental-illness http://uudb. org/articles/sylviaplath. html
An Autobiographical Depressive Account Over the years, many psychiatrists have used diagnostic models to assign a disorder to Sylvia Plath (and her alter-ego, Esther Greenwood). Because of the very strong and evident connections between Plath and Greenwood, it can only be said that the novel The Bell Jar was written to serve as a public suicide note that was born out of the shared depression of these two women.
Throughout this work, it becomes very clear that the majority if not all of the events that take place are inspired by Sylvia’s life. These two women, that perfectly display the effects of confinement, society and the pressure it puts on individuals and groups, as well as motherhood and simply being a female, not necessarily stand to represent depression and how it can lead to the end of a life, but how as a whole, the human race is sick.
The deeper and deeper one delves into the novel or even Sylvia’s backstory, the clearer it becomes that depression, especially in this case is not just sadness and is instead, an abyss. Even though it is typical that a family would be affected by this and not just in the way of not being able to believe shock therapy didn’t “work”. By reading the text and knowing the first thing about Sylvia, it is easy to not only make the connection that Esther is Sylvia, but the depression that Esther and her creator experience is real.
Some examples of this include the shared lack of interest in being noticed, being “intensely preoccupied”, several suicide attempts, and alterations in weight and her ability to focus and concentrate. With many of Sylvia’s friends noting that “She was easily plunged into dejection by even the smallest rejection or perceived failure” and Theresa realizing that Esther was struggling to concentrate and that she was seemingly restless, along with other similarly occurring events, to say Plath didn’t instill her life into Esther Greenwood would just be silly.