Sexual Life of Women In ‘The Bell Jar’
This is similar to the bell jar as the sexual life of women has to impact the way they are viewed, but in contrast with one flew over the cuckoo’s nest, in the bell jar women who have an active sexual life outside of marriage are looked down at. Esther had to stay at ‘the Amazon’, a Women-only that hotel, those type of hotels were very popular where really hotels were popular in the 1950s as they were used places to house young women and unmarried women Separating them from men,’ living where men couldn’t get at them and ‘those hotels expected to protect women virginity and therefore their ‘purity’, the fact that there were places simply dedicated to making sure unmarried women stayed virgin shows how society firmly believes in the misogynist idea that the dignity of women lie on their virginity, from this Plath is explaining how it also expenses that women at the time were judged simply based on their sexual activity. As she says, “When I was nineteen, pureness was the great issue. Instead of the world being divided up into Catholics and Protestants or Republicans and Democrats or white men and black men or even men and women, I saw the world divided into people who had slept with somebody and people who hadn’t, and this seemed the only really significant difference between one person and another’ the fact that she thought that being a virgin is ‘ the only really significant difference between one person and another’ shows how much emphasis society put on the party of women, the fact that that was a bigger difference than black people and white people and at the time this was written Jim crow laws still existed at that time, so this shows how unmarried women that were not virgins were looked down at and shunned by society. Esther was as brought up in a society that believed it is very important for women to be a virgin when they get married. She assumed the same applied to men.
Then, she discovered that her boyfriend was not a virgin. In fact, he had slept with a waitress a couple of times a week for a whole summer. Esther soon discovered that it may be “difficult to find a red-blooded intelligent man who was still pure by the time he was twenty-one” this shows the same pressure on being a Virgin is not put on man and that man were not judged based on their sexual activity as it was hard to find a twenty-one years old man who is still a virgin, the young age highlights that man had control over three bodies and were sexually free from a young age the fact that she didn’t know about the double the sexual double standers could symbolize practical norms and how they function in a covert way, and how women at that time were limited in, life but were not aware of it, this could be the writer saying that women need to wake up and realize society is rigged against them.
Esther “couldn’t stand the idea of a woman having to have a single pure life and a man being able to have a double life, one pure and one not” Esther often reflect on the sexual double standards that exist in her society. In particular, she has constant thoughts about her sexual status. She is a virgin for most of the novel, and this constantly weighs on her mind. The writer used the metaphor that women have an only life while men have a double life show that the women gaining sexual freedom are like gaining a new life, it also can be symbolism for cheating as society forgive a man for cheating on three partners but won’t allow unmarried women to have the sexual relationship. From this Plath is highlighting the double standard of American society,Esther decided that she will find a man and lose her virginity to break social expectation, from this the writer is calling women to break oppressive social norms, Esther loses her virginity to Irwin and suffers intense bleeding and had to be taken to the hospital,so the event that it spouse to empower her cause her great pain and made her a victim, this could be a metaphor for fighting for women rights, as the blooding could symbolize how women have to suffer to achieve equality, it also could be a metaphor for relationships and marriage, as women were told by society that marriage is the best option for them and they will be happy and empowered in a relationship.
However it will end up being violent as according to feminist theorists argue that domestic violence is a result of patriarchycharacterand it is a way which man use take over women, this is the same with rape as it is demonstrated with Marco, so from this the writer is suggesting that women could never be safe and happy under a patriarchal society and the only way for women to live happily and safely is through dismantling patriarchy.
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