Document Type



Bachelor of Arts in English


James Tackach, Ph.D.


In Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (1963), protagonist Esther Greenwood represents the emergence of the feminist movement even as she simultaneously acts in accordance with current sociobiological theory. However, her sociobiological identity exists in tension with the patriarchal ideology of the 1960s. Although Esther demonstrates the biological advantages of gender equality, her patriarchal culture rejects such progressive notions and enforces compulsory conformity. Esther’s species, in this sense, mistakenly observes her possession of the fortuitous feminist mutation as a debilitating force. It is, perhaps, this relentless tension that leads Esther to renounce her own existence. Esther’s numerous suicide attempts and tendencies can be understood as a consequence of species repudiation.