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symbols and themes

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S: symbols & themes

FC: symbols & themes


2: THE BELL JAR The symbol of a bell jar is made prevolent through the title of the book and it's many references in the text. The image of the bell jar is used to represent the trapping insanity that is taking over Esther. As our protagonist's madness increases, the 'bell jar' of her life becomes more and more suffocating. Esther is unable to make connections with anything in her life, she is losing touch with reality . “I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air” “the air of the bell jar wadded round me and I couldn’t stir.” “How did I know that someday---at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere---the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn’t descend again?” “To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream.”

3: THE FIG TREE A fig tree is used as the dominant symbol of Esther’s life; the different branches symbolizing the choices she could make and the fruit standing for the different rewards or disappointments of each choice. There are also worries of her indecisiveness “sitting in the crotch of the tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose.”

4: MEDIA Media is used to display the gap between Esther's world and reality. Fashion media alludes to Esther's involvement in the fashion world and to the photo of herself in the magazine that she doesn't recognize. The photo shows a beautiful girl whom is happy and smiling. Esther is dumbfounded by the glamour of the picture as opposed to her real life that is full of turmoil. Esther begins to read the scandal pages of the newspaper, foreshadowing her later suicide attempts. Esther reads a newspaper article focusing on a suicidal man who allows himself to be saved from jumping off a building. This article not only adds to her mess of suicidal thoughts, but no doubt provokes her future.

5: The headlines that are presented to Esther telling of her disappearance and her suicide attempts symbolize her affect on others and the extent of her gap from reality.

6: THE HEART The beating of Esther's heart symbolizes the unknown determination for her to live while she is trying so desperately to die. "I am, I am, I am."


8: SEPARATION Esther is alone and trapped within the walls she calls herself. From the very start she feels like an outsider ; not being able to embrace her cynical and sarcastic personality. When Esther goes to New York for her internship, she feels empty and lonely. She knows that she should be having the time of her life, for anyone in her position would be, but she is unable to. The bell jar creates a seperation between herself and the rest of the world, she is emotionally detatched from the world, slowly losing her grasp of reality.

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  • By: grategatsby
  • Joined: almost 10 years ago
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  • Title: symbols and themes
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  • Published: almost 10 years ago