The Bell Jar

Double Standards in The Bell Jar College

Gender double standards, which are among the effects of gender stereotypes, are reflected in Sylvia Plath’s semi-autobiographic novel The Bell Jar, which was published in 1963. This work tells the story of a young woman named Esther Greenwood, who is extremely intelligent but starts to consider committing suicide in New York during her internship with a magazine company. One of the main reasons for her suicide attempt is that she cannot handle the burden of the double standard of gender brought on by the society. She is expected to play a traditional woman role by society and by the people around her, but she fails to fit into such a constraining image. This limited gender role is upheld by social activities such as education, marriage, sexual liberty prescriptions, and career choices in the novel.

First, gender double standards exist in education and career in The Bell Jar. The society depicted by Plath provides women with education, but Esther pointedly describes the education of the young women who are staying at the Amazon Hotel: “They were all going to posh secretarial schools like Katy Gibbs, where they had to wear hats and stockings and gloves to class, or they had just graduated from places like Katy Gibbs and were...

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