The Bell Jar Study Guide

Imagine that things you have always enjoyed no longer brighten your existence. You feel alien among your friends and relatives, and nobody seems to understand you. Your mental state is getting worse every day, and you no longer find the reason to live. This is what happened to Esther, the main character of the novel.

The Bell Jar Study Guide will show you the deepest nooks of Esther’s mind.

You can read the summary and analysis of the book and learn about its central themes, characters, the climax of the narrative, and explore the plot diagram.

The Bell Jar Key Facts

Full name The Bell Jar
Author Sylvia Plath
Genre Coming-of-age fiction, psychological realism, autobiographic fiction
Date of publishing January 14, 1963
Setting (time) The summer of 1953
Setting (place) New York, Boston, and its suburbs

The Bell Jar Study Guide: Articles

The novel’s summary

This article contains a short summary of The Bell Jar. An illustrated timeline and a detailed plot summary are also to be found here.

Character analysis

Want to know more about The Bell Jar characters? Esther Greenwood, Buddy Willard, Philomena Guinea, and others are described in this article.

Themes of The Bell Jar

What is the key theme of the novel? Find here the answer to this question! Feminism, depression, and mental illness are analyzed here.

Symbolism & literary analysis

Need to conduct literary analysis of the novel? In this section, you’ll find The Bell Jar symbolism, setting, and genre described thoroughly.

Essay topics and examples

Need to write an essay on The Bell Jar? We’ve collected best essay topics, questions, prompts, and examples for you on one page.

The Bell Jar Q&A

Looking for questions and answers about the novel? On this page, you’ll find the answers to the most pressing questions about The Bell Jar. Enjoy!

Historical Context of The Bell Jar

One shall view The Bell Jar in the context of Sylvia Plath’s turbulent but short 30-year-long life. It is an autobiographical novel with some fictional elements. The author spoke about her painful experience living in 1950’s American society as a white middle-class, educated young woman. Her status was far more desirable than that of people of color in America during the same period. She could attend any university, apply for any grants, and become anyone she wanted. But was it just a vision of reality?

We live in a patriarchal civilization, and half a century ago, it was far more noticeable than now. It was 1953, and women have recently obtained the right to vote and study at the same institutions as men. They could apply to a limited number of job offerings that were considered fit for females. Women received lower salaries and rarely became top managers. As a rule, they had to sacrifice their hopes to create a family to build a career.

Other problematic spheres were mental illnesses and their treatment. Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung have raised the issues of depression, but no universal solutions had been found by the time when Sylvia Plath lived. Doctors sometimes successfully treated the mental disease treated by electric shock therapy and psychoanalysis. But the general public doubted their methods and often regarded depression as bad behavior or personal choice of the patient.

Sylvia Plath raised the discussion over the questions of gender roles and mental diseases in her novel. She went through the same challenges as her protagonist. That is why her description of the time is veritable and realistic.

In The Bell Jar study guide, you’ll find a collection of ideas for your paper on the short story! If you are interested in writing an A+ essay, try our summarizing and paraphrasing tools for students. Finally, you might want to compare your style to that of a famous writer!

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