The Bell Jar - Feminist Thought

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The Bell Jar This autobiographical novel by Sylvia Plath follows the story of Esther Greenwood, a third year college student who spends her summer at a lady's fashion magazine in Manhattan. But despite her high expectations, Esther becomes bored with her work and uncertain about her own future. She even grows estranged from her traditional-minded boyfriend, Buddy Willard, a medical student later diagnosed with TB. Upon returning to her hometown New England suburb, Esther discovers that she was not selected to take a Harvard summer school fiction course, and subsequently starts to slip into depression.

Esther finds herself unable to concentrate and perform daily tasks. Therefore she decides to undergo a few sessions with Dr. Gordon, a psychiatrist, and even undergoes treatments of electroshock therapy. As the depression sinks in, Esther becomes obsessive about suicide, and tries to kill herself by crawling into the cellar where she subsequently ingested a bottle of sleeping pills. Esther's attempt fails and she is taken to a city hospital, and then over to a private psychiatric institution by the intervention of a benefactor. As Esther begins to recover, she develops a close relationship with her psychiatrist Dr. Nolan, and eventually leaves the hospital as a transformed woman.

This transformation, spiritual reassessment or moral reconciliation is exactly the kind of happy ending described by Fay Weldon. In The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath ends the book with the scene of Esther going into meet the doctors of the mental evaluation board. She is standing outside the room with Dr. Nolan, observing the people around her and making observations about herself:

'Don't be scared,' Doctor Nolan had said.But in spite
of Doctor Nolan's reassurances, I was scared to death.
There ought, I thought, to be a ritual for being born twice patched, retreaded and approved for the road, I was trying to think of an appropriate one when Doctor Nolan appeared out of nowhere and...
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