Literary Devices In Sylvia Plath’S The Bell Jar

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar provides the dramatic tale of Esther Greenwoods’ inner turmoil of conforming to the society around her by living a simplistic, domesticated life or deciding to expand upon her ambitions as an extraordinary young woman. The novel provides the intricate story of a young woman’s life whilst proving to signify the reality of self-hatred and constant angst that often goes misunderstood. Plath utilizes satirical, vivid language to express the troublesome experiences of self-deprecation that many within society observe as dramatized and comfortable to those in such situations through Esther’s own trials and tribulations.

The novel significantly showcases this within the lines as follows, “If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed,” (Plath 48). Within this line, Plath expresses satire in such a simplistic yet definitive form and exploited dramatization to signify life in a way that offers no confusion. Plath conveyed the dramatic perception that people in society believe they are either right or wrong and there is inevitable disappointment awaiting anyone that longs for validation of their position. The text portrays a vivid ridicule of common notion that individuals in unsettling positions often abandon their objective of finding any genuine hope in situations as there is none to anticipate and are content in doing so and find it to be a good thing.

In compliance with the argument, Plath reestablishes this trend in reference to the minister visiting Esther in the hospital writing, “… I told him I believed in hell, and that certain people, like me, had to live in hell before they died, to make up for missing out on it after death, since they didn’t believe in life after death, and what each person believed happened to him when he died,” (Plath 166). It is made abundantly clear that others find Esther’s outlook on life to be one of absolute insanity, as she mentions, “He was terribly nervous the whole time, and I could tell he thought I was crazy as a loon,” (Plath 165). However, individuals, like Esther, are considered to find hell on earth as necessary pain as she was ruled insane for her feelings but expected to have no desire to get out. The irony in finding comfort in such a desolated state is one of great magnitude; drawing in the satirical notion of self-destruction being a sense of eternal pain and suffering that is nurtured to remain. Plath insists that this anguish is not a challenge, yet a requirement for the understanding of unexplained sadness and desolation, mocking the ways in which society portray such circumstances as though those affected find their own sense of sanctuary within affliction.

Plath is knowledgeable of the deep unawareness that most obtain to something as complex as mental health and the tendency to find those in such positions as erratic. Esther’s exemplified in such a sharp, unsettling manner that allows for empathy to the reader but also mockery of how unreasonable and unbelieve people such as Esther are portrayed and perceived by societal standard. Plath’s utilization of such language allows the reader to experience the ridicule of self-destruction and the dis-concern with the reality of the situation and how it is often dismissed within society as being nothing but a minor inconvenience.

Plath’s ability to showcase the satirical view of self-destruction and self-loathing is impeccably done throughout the novel and encompassed justly within the two paragraphs. Plath brings to life the harrowing emptiness that consumes those enthralled within the bell jar while ridiculing the belief of the dark hardships experienced as a desire for their own demise; as though people find requisite in a living hell. Plath’s usage of the satirical, vivid language provides the novel with the perfect amount of revelation and critique of the toxicity of the surrounding life within one’s world when coping with something as complex as self-destruction in mental illness.


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