Marriage and Motherhood in The Bell Jar and Top Girls

Topics: The Bell Jar, Betty Friedan, Wife Pages: 3 (1821 words) Published: October 30, 2014

“Mrs Buddy Willard” Marriage and motherhood is portrayed as being a burden to the lives of women in both Top Girls and The Bell Jar. What are the Parallels and Contradictions of the portrayal of Motherhood and Marriage between the two texts? The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and Top Girls By Caryl Churchill both feature motherhood and marriage as one of their main themes even though the texts were set at different points in time. The Bell Jar was published in 1963 around the time of the publication of Betty Freidan’s Feminine Mystique. The Feminine Mystique stated that the ideal housewives of the 1960’s were a myth as each one of them were secretly unhappy but never spoke out about their unhappiness due to fear of not abiding by the social normality of the time. This feeling of displacement in the social norm is what Plath bases the experiences of protagonist Esther upon and what eventually drives Esther into mental instability. Motherhood and marriage is seen to be a key factor in the society of which The Bell Jar is set ,and is portrayed as one of the things that supresses female identity when Esther is asked to be “Mrs Buddy Willard” as if she is owned by Buddy and not her own person. Even though Top Girls is set in 1980’s England while Margret Thatcher is Prime Minister, it shows direct correlations to the ideas shown in The Bell Jar. Just as the bell jar itself portrays motherhood and marriage to be a hindrance to Careers In the form of Dodo Conway, Top Girls protagonist Marlene symbolises the other option women have in the choice between a career and a family. Marlene, unlike her sister Joyce, is shown to have given up her child for the chance to pursue a career as if having both is impossible; a lot like Jaycee is in The Bell Jar. This essay will argue that In both texts motherhood and marriage is shown to be a hindrance to both women’s careers and their female identity. The theme of marriage in The Bell Jar and Top Girls Is shown to demolish the female...
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