The Bell Jar: Adulthood and DevelopmentEveryone must endure multiple stages of life, including misfortunes in the process of becoming an adult. Adolescents are faced with many challenges and opportunities, ranging from careers, education, and self-identity. Many of these expectations of life are too difficult to understand or accomplish for one who has not had enough life based experiences. The overwhelming stress of all the demands from society and the so called society’s standards may bring about mental illness on a young adult. This may affect in many ways how the adolescent functions. Influential novels such as “The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, “Speaking of Sadness by David Karp”, and film “A Beautiful Mind by director Ron Howard” all analyze the unfortunate occurrence of mental illness with the author’s own experiences, long struggles from the illness, and how social supporting factors, present or absent, influence one’s ability to overcome hardships in these young years.Fictional book, “The Bell Jar,” by Sylvia Plath can be used as a negative example in relation to mental illness.  Esther Greenwood in The Bell Jar, is Sylvia Plath’s own recreation or representation of herself, prior to her unfortunate death. The novel is based on the worsening life of young, nineteen-year-old University student, Esther. Esther is faced with conflicts even from the beginning of her childhood. Her father passed away at the very young age of nine, and her mother was not supportive of her passion for poetry and creativity, and wanted her to learn a vocation so that she can make a living. Throughout the novel, the readers can understand that Esther is going through these hardships at such a young age, impossible for one to bare, or even understand. One important factor to take note, is friends. Friends in the novel play an important role, as they ultimately shape her personality. Subsequently, the surroundings that a person is faced with, shapes one’s values and other character traits. Accordingly, from this information, a main argument is constructed. Author Sylvia Plath in “The Bell Jar” creates an effort to illustrate the adverse effects of absent social relations and a clear role model on fragile, unaccustomed young adolescent growth in society. This aspect is evident in Esther. Understanding the importance of reality, the novel provides insight of the negative consequence of personality. Author Sylvia Plath was in the same predicament as her fictionalized character proved that many young people undergo the same circumstances. Esther’s own character, was shaped by her “friends” Doreen, and Betsy, two incorporate two very different identities. Her surroundings also play a vital role, as imperfections of minor characters can be absorbed into Esther. Friend Doreen lives a very different lifestyle, a more elegant life than Esther. Doreen spends ample time with Esther, trying to change Esther’s taste into more materialistic items. Doreen favors Esther into items such as such as lavish clothes, a bountiful lifestyle, and greater satisfaction towards men. Friend Betsy on the other hand, has entirely different contrasting values. Betsy’s personality is very giving and caring. One major difference in comparison, is that Betsy has not been faced with the harsh reality of the real world. Betsy has been more sheltered, and has not seen the true essence of society for what it signifies. Esther in return, is currently trying to decide which identity she must follow. The influence of  these friends, and many other significant people in her life have constructed a small part of her. Esther is known to analyze and criticize her friends. Still questioning her identity, she does this to figure out who she wants to be in this world. It is important to understand how peers and environments help shape one’s identity. Without proper friends who are well rounded, and set a good example, Esther will struggle and continue on a downward path, outlined accordingly in the novel. If the reader was in a similar position, one would question his/her own identity and what it stands for. The following quote best describes Esther’s character at the current point in time. “I felt very still and very empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.”(Quote Esther Greenwood, The Bell Jar Page 6) Analysing the quote, the reader understands Esther is placed in the center of all the chaos surrounding her life. Esther has isolated herself from finding status.


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