Friday, October 14, 2011
Thoughts: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet. – The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
I don’t want to sound like every other teenage girl who has read The Bell Jar, but the above quote perfectly sums up the things I’ve been asking myself since I turned 19. There are so many things I want to be—a novelist, a lawyer, a literature professor, and so much more. Sometimes, I worry that I might take too long trying to decide on the right path that it might be too late, and, other times, I worry that I might fall flat on my face once I actually give something a shot. Maybe wondering about my life choices is just part of being 20, part of not knowing who I am or who I’m going to be.
The Bell Jar is set in the 50s, but it tackles a lot of issues about women that are still relevant today. The novel points out that the fears of having a baby and being “impure” are always held over a woman’s head, limiting her choices in life. I don’t know about people from other countries, but, in the culture I grew up in, society places a very high importance on a woman’s virginity. Our elders sometimes say that a man might not marry you if he finds out you’re not a virgin.
In The Bell Jar, Esther Greenwood, the protagonist, rebels against such social constraints, and forges her own unique path. Within herself, Esther managed to demolish the “why buy the cow if the milk is free?” mentality, and I kowtow to her for that (even if she was a little crazy). A woman’s value shouldn’t depend on her virginity. In fact, a woman’s value shouldn’t be counted at all, because she is priceless.
Totally fabulous read.
And while we're on the subject of gender...
Note: Sorry for this ridiculously lengthy post.