Identity In The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath

Words: 1099
Pages: 5

A Bell Jar with a Tight Lid For some individuals, knowing who they are just comes naturally, but in some cases, people have to go out of their way in order to find their identity. The journey to self-discovery is portrayed in The Bell Jar, for the novel focuses on the narrator, Esther Greenwood, as she struggles to find herself. Through the skillful use of various literary devices, the author, Sylvia Plath, presents the theme of identity in the novel. To begin with, Esther’s lack of identity is revealed in the very first chapter of the book when she introduces herself under a fake name, Elly Higginbottom, to a man she meets in Times Square. She justifies her actions by claiming that [she] didn't want anything [she] said or did to be associated with [herself] and [her] real name” (Plath 11). Though it is understandable to not want to divulge personal information to a stranger, Esther continues her …show more content…
Each time she approaches a mirror, she “repeatedly confronts her own unrecognized or distorted image in the mirror” (Bonds). For instance, one evening as she is riding the elevator to her room, she “noticed a big, smudgy-eyed Chinese woman staring idiotically into [her] face” (Plath 18) only to find that it was actually her reflection in the mirror. Another incident where she is unable to recognize herself occurs when she wakes up in the hospital after a suicide attempt and immediately demands the nurse to lend her a mirror. The nurse reluctantly gives it to her and Esther questions why the nurse made such a big deal over it because she claims “it wasn't a mirror at all, but a picture” (Plath 174). The mirror not only symbolizes Esther’s failure to recognize the outside of her being, but serves to provide insight on how difficult it will be to find herself on the inside as well since she can’t even discern her own self when she comes across a