"The Female Helix of Paradox and Identity Within the Mirrored Imagery of The Bell Jar"

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Dolores M Batten

Abstract

"The Female Helix of Paradox and Identity Within the Mirrored Imagery of The Bell Jar"


This article analyzes Sylvia Plath’s use of the bell jar as a multifaceted symbol which highlights an emerging discourse on 1950s feminism. Addressing the paradox within the image of the bell jar—one of both female strengths and weaknesses—this article establishes multiple layers of symbolism within the bell jar—images both liberating and entrapping simultaneously. The paper then explores ideas of gendered identity and crisis, sexuality, depression, and multiple roles that women play in both the home and workspace, while also discussing the need for women to disengage from both spatial spheres through the bell jar, all the while avoiding the stifling effects of it. By illuminating the metaphorical bell jar representing the female experience, the article asserts that layers of the bell jar compete with one other, creating amplified effects on both women and society.


Keywords: Plath, imagery, bell jar, symbol, feminism, gender, identity, mirror, language

Article Details

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Essays