Patriarchy In The Bell Jar

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In The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath, the relationship between Esther and her mother is a lunar one, showing how patriarchal society expects women to act when entering a relationship with a man, someone who has a more solar role in society. Esther’s relationship with Joan displays what happens to women in the 1950s if found to be fluctuating between what society expects of them, white pureness, and the darkness of the roles society forces women to adhere to. Her mother gives up all her light to her father, all of her job and career aspirations, so that he could be the primary breadwinner of the house and she could stay home, even though Esther’s mother has a college degree and is capable of providing for her family (Plath 140), making money through…show more content…
Upon entering this institution, Esther is confronted by white like “a white blouse” (208), of Dr. Nolan’s and the white hair of a another doctor (209). These doctors represent a part of the patriarchy in their depiction of whiteness, trying to make women less ill and better able to fit into the mold society has prepared for them. The whiteness portrayed here is nothing but a blanket to cover up the real issues of women like Esther, to hide the darkness and implement the ideals of patriarchy like purity. This is why “the thick white blanket,” is repeatedly mentioned throughout Esther’s stay at this institution (209). It promotes wellness as accepted by society. This white blanket is also present in other patients’ rooms at this institution, like in Joan’s room (218). Both women are under the same pressures of the patriarchy like the shadow of the earth covering the moon, creating the phases humans see. These shadows represent encroaching darkness for some women, a new moon they can not come back
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