Symbolism In The Bell Jar

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1.2 Plath’s use of symbols & motifs to depict the theme of social conventions

The idea of social convention, ‘the way in which something is usually done in mass similarity’, is one of the most prominent ways in which Plath depicts female entrapment within her novel. The entire novel revolves around a woman 's battle with herself and the life she wishes for herself. The social convention aspect is all in all a synonym for what society expects of us. What society expects of an individual. In The Bell Jar social conventions like women settling down and giving birth to children are what really shows where a woman 's place is within the community. The fact that if a woman focuses more on her academics than family life is frowned upon and not something to brag over shows how very little freedom there was for women to explore themselves beyond sprouting the life of new generations. The vast majority of the story itself deals with the expectations held towards the protagonist, her future, and her behaviour by the community she is surrounded with as well as herself. The fig tree, recognised as a prominent symbol within the novel, is introduced to the reader through a tale about a Catholic nun and a Jewish man. In the story, the two meet whilst picking figs until one day they eventually touch hands, which results in the nun not returning. Esther attempts to correlate the story with her relationship with Buddy Willard. She imagines each fig to be a possible path through which her
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