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Essay Outlines : How does societal pressure impact Esther Greenwood's mental health in The Bell Jar?

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Essay Outlines #1

Societal Pressure's Impact on Esther Greenwood's Mental Health in The Bell Jar
Sylvia Plath's semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, delves into the mental health struggles of protagonist Esther Greenwood as she navigates a society that places immense pressure on young women. Societal expectations, gender roles, and conformity shape Esther's journey, exacerbating her anxiety and depression.
1. Societal Expectations for Women
In the post-World War II era depicted in the novel, women were expected to conform to a traditional ideal of domesticity and motherhood. Esther feels immense pressure to achieve societal success and marry a suitable man. This weight on her shoulders creates an overwhelming sense of failure and inadequacy.
"I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story." (Plath, 2006, p. 1)
2. Rigid Gender Roles
The novel highlights the societal pressure on women to conform to stereotypical gender roles. Esther feels suffocated by the expectations that she should be feminine, submissive, and dependent on men. Her inability to meet these norms results in feelings of alienation and self-doubt.
"I was expected to be full of life when I was only half alive." (Plath, 2006, p. 2)
3. Conformity and Competition
Esther's peers and the broader society expect her to conform to the expectations for her age and gender. She feels pressure to excel in her studies, be accepted by her peers, and adhere to societal norms. The constant comparisons and competition lead to feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.
"I was a nothing, a nobody, a blank page on which the world was to be written." (Plath, 2006, p. 4)
4. Sexual Objectification and Harassment
Esther faces repeated sexual objectification and harassment from men throughout the novel. This reinforces the societal pressure on women to be perceived as sexually desirable above all else. The trauma of these experiences adds to her mental distress and further undermines her self-esteem.
"They were the enemy, the men. They were the ones who had the power, the ones who made the rules...I hated them." (Plath, 2006, p. 11)
Societal pressure plays a significant role in Esther Greenwood's deteriorating mental health in The Bell Jar. The expectations for women, rigid gender roles, pressure to conform, and sexual objectification create an oppressive environment that stifles her individuality and exacerbates her anxiety and depression. Esther's struggle reflects the broader societal pressures that young women face in a patriarchal society.
Plath, S. (2006). The Bell Jar. Faber & Faber.
Friedan, B. (1963). The Feminine Mystique. W. W. Norton & Company.
Showalter, E. (1977). A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Brontë to Lessing. Princeton University Press.
Woolf, V. (1929). A Room of One's Own. Harcourt Brace & Company.

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By PD Tutor#1
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Essay Outlines #2

I. Introduction
A. Background information on The Bell Jar and its author, Sylvia Plath
B. Brief summary of the novel and its protagonist, Esther Greenwood
C. Thesis statement: The societal pressure depicted in The Bell Jar negatively impacts Esther Greenwood's mental health.
II. Society's Expectations for Women in the 1960s
A. Description of societal norms and expectations for women during the 1960s
B. Analysis of how these expectations influence Esther's perception of herself and her place in society
III. Pressure to Succeed Academically and Professionally
A. Discussion of the pressure placed on Esther to excel in her academic and professional pursuits
B. Examination of how this pressure contributes to Esther's feelings of inadequacy and anxiety
IV. Romantic and Sexual Expectations
A. Exploration of the societal expectations placed on Esther in terms of romance and sexuality
B. Analysis of how these expectations impact Esther's relationships and self-image
V. Mental Health Struggles and Breakdown
A. Description of Esther's declining mental health throughout the novel
B. Discussion of the role societal pressure plays in exacerbating Esther's mental health issues
C. Examination of how Esther's breakdown is a direct result of the societal pressures she faces
VI. Conclusion
A. Recap of the main points discussed in the essay
B. Restatement of the thesis and its significance
C. Final thoughts on the impact of societal pressure on Esther Greenwood's mental health in The Bell Jar.
VII. Coping Mechanisms and Attempts to Conform

A. Analysis of the ways in which Esther tries to cope with societal pressure, such as through humor and sarcasm
B. Examination of Esther's attempts to conform to societal expectations, despite the negative impact on her mental health

VIII. Breaking Free from Societal Constraints

A. Discussion of Esther's eventual rejection of societal norms and expectations
B. Analysis of how this liberation plays a crucial role in Esther's journey towards mental health recovery

IX. Impact of Societal Pressure on Esther's Relationships

A. Exploration of how societal pressure affects Esther's relationships with others, such as her friends, family, and romantic partners
B. Analysis of the strained relationships caused by Esther's struggles with societal expectations

X. Comparisons to Modern Society

A. Comparison of the societal pressures faced by Esther in the 1960s to those faced by women today
B. Analysis of the similarities and differences in how societal pressure impacts mental health in different time periods

XI. Conclusion

A. Summary of the key points discussed in the essay
B. Reiteration of the significance of societal pressure in shaping Esther Greenwood's mental health in The Bell Jar
C. Final reflections on the enduring relevance of Sylvia Plath's exploration of societal expectations and mental health in the novel.

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