Teacher Guide

The Bell Jar Lesson Plan

Introduction to The Bell Jar

Sylvia Plath writes The Bell Jar as a semi-autobiographical narrative detailing not just a time in her life (her summer in New York City and following fall) but also the evolution of her depressed mental state and her maturation, including her romantic relationships. The novel falls into the tradition of the bildungsroman: a coming of age tale. Esther Greenwood, at 19 years old, leaves the comfort and familiarity of her home and college to experience New York City. Plath's attention to detail and poetic language help to make the difficult subject matter of Esther's depression more palatable. Her humor and use of irony also buffer the reader from the harsh progression into depression,...

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