The Bell Jar - Esther and Patriarchy

Topics: Gender role, Sociology, Woman Pages: 3 (1338 words) Published: June 28, 2008
"The Bell Jar", which is written by Sylvia Plath, indicates that patriarchal society has many effects on women. Men have power over women in both direct and indirect ways. In this paper, I would like to concern about Esther and patriarchy. Men use their power directly to oppress Esther. Also they use power indirectly to set up social values and sexual stereotyping which have many effects on Esther. To begin with men's power that affects Esther directly, there is the issue of sexual discrimination that is shown obviously in the novel. In the patriarchal society, men are in-control. Also, men have women in their power. Women are oppressed by men. As for Esther, men have many effects on her life. There are many men who oppress her. Firstly, Marco, who falls in love with his cousin, has almost raped her. He can't have his wish fulfilled because his cousin is going to be a nun. Esther doesn't have any idea that a man who falls in love with his cousin will see her as a material. He curses the word "slut" at her. She is very disappointed. The thing he does with her is one of the causes that make her break down. Secondly, Irwin, whom Esther meets at the library, doesn't have responsibility. Esther wants to get rid of her virginity. Thus, she decides to seduce Irwin because of his qualities. He is the professor and already has a girlfriend. " I felt the first man I sleep with must be intelligent, so I would respect him…I also needed somebody quite experienced to make up for my lack of it…Then, to be on the safe side, I wanted somebody I didn't know and wouldn't go on knowing…" (P.186). After Esther sleeps with Irwin, she has hemorrhage and must go to see a doctor. Irwin makes her feel disappointed because he isn't responsible for the bill for doctor's curing and checkup. Instead of feeling guilty, he asks her to see him again. Thirdly, Doctor Gordon, who is a psychiatrist, hurts Esther by using shock treatments. What Esther really wants is warmness, but Doctor Gordon...
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