The Bell Jar

From Syntax to Sarcasm: On Sylvia Plath’s Writing Style in The Bell Jar 11th Grade

Every true artist develops a style, with the greatest managing to produce styles different than their contemporaries. Different styles set artists apart so that people they have not met nor ever will can observe the person’s art and recognize the artist in his or her piece. This recognition of style is found in music -- as a person wanders through a shopping mall, catches a snippet of piano music, and connects it to Beethoven -- in art -- as a person wanders through a museum and sees the tell-tale hues of blue in a painting and connects it to Picasso -- and in literature -- as a person wanders through the shelves in a library, and upon choosing a book and flipping it open, recognizes the distinct voice as Sylvia Plath’s. This book is The Bell Jar, the semi-autobiographical novel about a young woman Esther Greenwood’s experience with and descent into madness. In the novel, Plath explores the themes of mental illness, death, and individualism with precise but informal diction, revealing the themes to the reader with negative imagery and drawing him or her in with the liberal usage of descriptive language. Between the descriptions, anecdotes, and testimonies, Plath varies her syntax with devices such as polysyndeton and asyndeton....

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