Symbolism In The Bell Jar In Othello

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“Being born a woman is my awful tragedy. From the moment I was conceived to have my whole circle of action, thought and feeling rigidly circumscribed by my inescapable feminity.” – Sylvia Plath
From Elizabethan society in Othello to mid-20th century in the Bell Jar, just as stated from Plath, patriarchy in the form of social convention and expectation defines the life of women with feminity.
I. The oppressive patriarchal society in Othello
In the patriarchal society of Othello, men have authority and superiority in domesticity and marriage. Women are often treated as possessions of men that blind obedience is required. Patriarchal rule justifies women's subordination as the natural order because women were thought to be physically and psychologically
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The Bell Jar
Similarly, in the Bell Jar, women also portray a submissive role in which they should devote themselves into domesticity and motherhood. The following – the use of symbolism and characterization in form of social convention in patriarchy, quest for Greenwood’s identity and its impact, the bell jar symbol – proves that women are defined by social convention in patriarchal society in the Bell Jar.
The story starts with a nineteen-year old girl named Esther Greenwood from Boston who has earned a summer internship at an eminent magazine publisher “the Ladies’ Days”. Being seen as a valuable chance to others, she is supposed to be having the time of her life. Yet, she feels devoid and miserable with her future. As the plot develops, Esther reveals her relationship with Buddy Willard, whom is seen as a “perfect” marriage partner in society’s view. Yet, when Buddy concedes his date with Joan and impurity, she was enraged by the seemingly innocent look of Billy. Thereafter, it is revealed that Billy has suffered from tuberculosis. During Esther’s visit to the sanitarium, Billy proposes to her but she turns it down
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Magazine and propaganda provide entertainment and information to people and thus reflect values and conventions in the society. Esther works in “the Ladies’ Day”, a fashion magazine publisher, which mainly gives advice to young woman about cooking and cleaning – skills that are necessary for women as a housewife in society’s view. This clearly indicates the domesticity of women. In addition, the propaganda of motherhood shows the unfairness and hypocrisy between genders. In the propaganda, it is said that “best men wanted pureness in their wives. Even though they would try to persuade a girl to have sex and say they would marry her later, but as soon as she gave in, they would lose all respect and end up making her life miserable.” It shows that the society values highly of women’ pureness before marriage, and such that Esther comments this as if “the world is divided into people who had slept with somebody and people who hadn’t, and this seemed the only really significant difference between one person and another.” If woman does not obey to this patriarchal rule, their life will be doomed - taunted by the society and cannot safeguard a marriage. On the other hand, remaining pure is merely an option for men, like Billy. They would only care about their own desire and does not have to bear any
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