Compare the Ways Plath and Kesey Present Psychological Disorders and ‘Minds Under Stress’ in the Bell Jar and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest? Essay

Words: 3257
Pages: 14

‘One flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ and ‘The Bell Jar’ can be linked considerably. Both the novels in question are products of the author’s own experiences and the specific culture in which they were written. They both draw upon similar events throughout, yet the philosophy and reason behind them is often significantly contrasting. However, it cannot be argued that their presentation of psychological disorder and the pressure that it forces on the mind are intrinsically linked due to the circumstances in which they take place.

One of the most patent presentations of minds under stress is reflected in the way that Plath and Kesey portray a gender dominated society. Both novels display a governing gender that suppresses the other,
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While Esther’s intellectual talents earn her prizes and scholarships, many people assume that she most wants to become a wife and mother. Girls at her college mock her and her studious ways, and only begin to show her esteem once she starts dating a handsome boy, Buddy Willard. The approval ratings soar from there, treating Esther with “amazement and respect” and everyone, including her “hinting” mother, expects Esther to marry Willard. This shows how men dominate the female view on life, with nobody truly respecting someone until they were on the arm of a successful or desirable man. Ironically, many women regarded studying and gaining intellect as “wasting their golden college days”. The pressure from Buddy himself and his father is also apparent, never giving Esther time to give her say “I think we understand each other” and always expecting her to drop her poetical and literary ambitions at a whim in order to become a ‘home maker’. Buddy, who is “smiling” when Esther breaks her leg skiing, also shows the cruel and dominating nature of men, underestimating the will of the opposite sex. However, this view could also be a warped and distorted one due to Esther’s mistrust and negativity towards the male gender.

Dr. Gordon is also an icon of the patriarchal society that engulfs Esther. He seems uninterested in what she has to say, “Where did you say you went to college?” and totally ignores her complaints, hastily