Comparison Of Doreen And Jay Cee From The Bell Jar By Sylvia Plath

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

In Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” the characters such as Doreen and Jay Cee are opposites, they both embody each of their respective stereotypes. Doreen is introduced in the first half of the book, she’s one of the interns Esther meets at the amazon hotel in New York. As mentioned by Plath, Doreen is being described by Esther, “I’d never known a girl like Doreen Before. Doreen came from a society of girls’ college down South and had bright white hair standing out like cotton candy fluff round her head and blue eyes like transparent agate marbles” (4). Doreen is the stereotypical rich girl, with pretty clothes and an attractive persona, she oozes beauty and freedom. Doreen enjoyed going out and having a good time when accompanied by various gentlemen. Doreen is a modern woman; she is open-minded and has a sense of liberation. Doreen doesn’t take her internship in New York seriously from Esther’s Point of view, as she could care less of being a Magazine editor. Doreen is out to have fun, and party with men. Doreen is an example of a woman Esther could be or could’ve been if she followed that path of conformity.

On the other hand, Jay Cee is not so pretty and is much older, she’s the editor for the women’s magazine, she’s hardworking, stern takes her job very seriously, and isn’t much of an outdoor fun type like Doreen. She works and goes home to her husband day after day. She is described as a sort of mother/big sister figure to Esther, she encourages Esther to write more poems, and study more languages to be successful if she wants to be an editor for a magazine company. Jay Cee isn’t viewed as a stereotypical woman, as she is a hard-working woman, a successful woman with a good job and a husband. Esther admires Jay Cee because she isn’t a stereotypical woman, unlike Doreen, Esther wants to be different she wouldn’t want to be exactly like Jay Cee or rather say emulate, but she does inspire Esther’s view on society. As we learn at toward the end of the book, Esther doesn’t want to be categorized within a specific stereotype Esther wants to be free of society, she wants to be her own woman, she wants to be what she sees fit according to her personal feelings and desires. The main male characters in the book such as, Irwin, Buddy Willard and Marco, there is another stereotype that is present in the book. The stereotype that is being presented to us readers and especially Esther, is that women should be a sit at home wives, do the dishes and take care of the children.

Gender inequality is heavily present and is implied by Buddy Willard as he wants Esther to give everything up as a person, marry him, have his kids and be his stay at home housewife. Buddy views Esther to a lesser degree only because Esther is a woman, and her ambitions should be forgotten if they have gotten married. Marco on the other hand, is a presumed woman-hater, as he wipes blood on Esther provoking the animalistic nature of men, the aggression, Marco uses Esther for sexual gratification, and almost rapes her. Irwin, the math professor encounters Esther when she leaves the asylum, Esther initially thought he was a good man, but in reality, Irwin used Esther for sexual needs as he learns of her virginity and takes advantage of Esther. Irwin, like many other men in the 1950s era, objectified women, having sexual relations with women was acceptable for men but unacceptable for women. Which is a hypocrisy in itself. By the end of the book, Buddy Willard comes to see Esther at the asylum, but Esther isn’t having it, Buddy is like a lost puppy, he’s weak-minded.

Buddy Willard usually had his way with women and with Esther, but by the end, Buddy was unsure of himself. Even asking Esther if she sees something in him that drives women crazy, as mentioned by Plath, Buddy asks Esther, “Do you think there’s something in me that drives women crazy?” (239). Esther laughs at him like he’s a child, as he says that with such seriousness, he doesn’t realize what a hypocrite he is, and a womanizer. Buddy thinks Esther needs him or needs a man. But Esther grows as a person, Esther is her own person and has a mind of her own. Buddy thinks he has power, but in the end, we know this is untrue, as he is viewed as insecure and unsure of himself when he visits Esther at the hospital. As Plath mentions, Esther says to Buddy, “it’s you who oughtn’t to dig our cars, Buddy. Not me. ” (238). Esther is in control here, and Buddy is standing there confused while Esther shovels the snow, she is empowered and doesn’t need a man to shovel the snow for her. She can do it all on her own.

In conclusion, The Gender inequality played a dominant role in the 1950’s women were viewed as the stereotypical housewife, and shouldn’t have a job in the automobile industry or work a blue-collar job, assertive women were looked down upon by men whether attractive or not, it wasn’t the norm. Esther seen this as such, she didn’t want society to govern her decisions, she wanted to be her own woman, and by the end of the novel find her own man. Doreen and Jay Cee showed Esther the many shades of stereotypical society, Esther wanted to break free from the norm. Esther was affected by the role of gender, by her friends/family, by the men she surrounded herself with, gender played a huge role in her identity the double standard that men display in the book, Thus, it is what drives Esther from Buddy and men entirely. The book teaches us/shows us, that Esther doesn’t care about her image, her goal is to be an empowered woman a not let society govern her decisions.


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