Comparing “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath

CITRIC follows a more conventional coming-of-age story, dealing with feelings of isolation, loneliness, relationships and the transition into adult life whereas we see Esther of TAB diverging from the usual trajectory of adolescent development into adulthood. Instead she undergoes a progressive education, cumulating in entering adulthood and thus regressing into madness. Both writers’ presentation of these narrators as ‘outsiders’ is arguably intrinsic to our understanding of the story as they allow us to comprehend the life they lead, and to al with the said issues of alienation, loneliness and depression.

This presentation also allows us to obtain reader perspective of the ‘outsider’ position within society and the issues they endure. The presentation of Esther and Holder as outsiders is very central in the telling of the story and ultimately the understanding. As Holder Coalfield is iconic for teenage rebellion thus posing as an outsider, he is imperative in dealing with the themes of teenage angst and alienation within the novel. Such issues being presented become more comprehensible and thus bolster the complex issues of identity and belonging.

Similarly Plash’s the Bell Jar’ depicts the protagonist’s decent into mental illness paralleling with Plash’s own experiences. This in turn gives the story a personal take making it almost semi-autobiographical. Plash’s presentation of Esther may not necessarily be considered as making her an ‘outsider’ however she deals with obvious ‘outsider’ issues such as depression and attempted suicide and there is a prevalent sense of UN-belonging within the novel which ultimately is intrinsic in our understanding of the story as it builds up to her attempts of suicide and mental decent.

It can also be argued however that the narrators being presented as ‘outsiders isn’t the most essential device in telling the story. Perhaps one of the fundamental paradigms of both novels is that of society and the protagonist and the reader’s position within society. The readers position allows us to be subjective as to whether the protagonists are really ‘outsiders’ or not ND whether society impacts or Judgment or not.

Holder finds himself excluded from society and victimized by the world around him. As he tells Mr. Spencer he feels trapped on the other side’ of life, we are thus aware of Holder’s sense of isolation, similarly in the Bell Jar how Ester feels like she differs from society, even down to her virginity. To understand the story we therefore must be known to the premise of society expectations, and how they affect the characters and their behavior.