Feminism in the 1950's was highly uncommon but in The Bell Jar, author Sylvia Plath presents early signs of feminist views throughout the novel. The old clichÃÂ© "Think twice before you leap" needless to say, presents itself endlessly throughout this novel.
Feminism is the movement for social, political, and economic equality of men and women. Ester was an early reflection of feminism. Feminism did not go public until the 60's and 70's. This book helped society in that it showed how females faced difficult decisions about their lives and their families.
I presume a person feels sympathy for Esther because her mind set is usually death-orientated. Her father died when she was nine years old. Her mother convincingly makes Esther a nervous wreck. Her mother seemingly pushed Esther to make decisions. Such as, taking Ester to see Dr. Gordon, a psychiatrist. Ester proves to have an incurable mindset. She often rationalized death as the only means of life.
It can be said that Ester was ahead of feminist times. More so, she advanced her illness upon men. Men that inflicted her with much pain. One man in particular, Buddy Wilard.
Buddy loved Ester with much content, but found himself at a dead-end because Ester didn't truly feel the same way as he did. Therefore with no progression he decides to have a fling with a waitress. Buddy later asks Ester if it was him that makes women crazy? Through out the novel Ester believes he is the biggest hypocrite. She loathes him. Ester also felt the pressure of society. She felt she did not meet the criteria needed to be a female novelist. She felt he would always be more in the eyes of others because it was thought that men had more seniority.
Ester went on dating. Most of the men were ruthless, such as one man named Marco. Ester could see right through Marco like glass. She knew from the start that he was a womanizer. She began to trust her gut feeling about him.
Yet throughout the novel she shows dissatisfaction with her life and how she has been mistreated.
The jar represents confinement. Perhaps the jar was Esters mind and body, perhaps she felt entrapped by society. Women were believed to stay home and raise children, more likely what Buddy wanted Ester to do if they ever were to marry. Ester wanted her works to be published.
Ester was preoccupied by her female sexuality. She viewed Doreen with fascination because Doreen could provoke or control the opposite sex. Deep down, Ester longed to be loved but she was not willing. She did not like the feeling of being controlled.
Oddly enough Ester took more of a liking to Dr. Nolan then Dr. Gordon. She felt dominated by Dr. Gordon because he treated her carelessly. He gave her shock therapy treatments without any warning, while Dr. Nolan befriended Ester, literally as if Ester was her own daughter.
Ester non-chalontly had her first sexual experience and might have bleed to death. Curious as she was this incident did not change her views on men.
This novel represents one woman's experiences with life. Buddy's virginity did not live up to Esters expectation. Neither did her dream of becoming a talented writer, she thought she lost her ability to write, but only let herself down by quitting. She made herself believe she couldn't write. In many ways she convinced herself that things were more complex then they actually were. Dr. Nolan seems to have treated Ester's symptoms and not her true problem.
The Rosenberg case seems to start the turmoil inside Esters head. Ester sees resemblance between herself and that of Ethel Rosenberg, who was imprisoned for espionage. I believe Ester never told how she really felt because she was years ahead of her time, she always thought twice before she leaped.