Themessage is clear to Esther: ".

It made me go all sleepy and peaceful." This touch is arguablythe only tenderness Esther experiences in the novel, yet her response tothe similar contact between Milly and Theodora is this: "I was disappointed.

Contemporary feminist theory has questioned the validity of this modelof the self.

Joan replaces, as Esther's neighbor, MissNorris, with whom Esther shares an hour of "close, sisterly silence." Joan'sintimacy with Dee Dee is associated with improving health (Vance Bourjaily, who writes that a "relapse" is indicated by Joan's "lesbianinvolvement"--the novel simply contradicts this).

I knew that in spite of all the rosesand the kisses .

But such a conception of the self denies the undeniable: therelationality of selfhood.

The recovery which Plath constructs for herheroine reenacts the dismemberments obsessively imaged in the first halfof the novel; I would argue that it merely leaves Esther prey to definingherself unwittingly and unwillingly in relation to all that remains toher: culturally-ingrained stereotypes of women.

Bonds, "The Separative Self in Sylvia Plath's" in Vol.

If, as I have already suggested, the reconstructed Estheris a retreaded tire doomed to go flat (and probably on the same highwaythat brought her to the asylum in the first place), that is partly becauseher cure perpetuates the disease.

10 Facts About Sylvia Plath’s 'The Bell Jar' | Mental Floss

In rejecting the "weird old women" who want to save her, sheappears to become increasingly disempowered; that is, she appears to losetouch with the talents and skills that these women nurtured.

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By the closing pages of the novel, two meaningful relations with womenare open to Esther, relations with her friend, Joan Gilling, and her psychiatrist,Dr.

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It is especially important to notice in this regard that the point whereEsther turns her back on Jay Cee coincides with the diminishment of hersense of competence, which becomes increasingly worse as the weeks passin New York.

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In the penultimate scene of the novel, Esther attendsJoan's funeral, wondering, she tells us, "what I thought I was burying"and listening to the insistent "brag of [her own] heart"--"I am, I am,I am." Since Esther springs to new life as Joan is buried, it would bedifficult not to conclude that Plath is putting aside, burying, some unacceptablepart of her heroine: Esther has even explicitly identified Joan as "thebeaming double of my old best self." Like the metaphor of a retread, however,this comment exemplifies "the uncertainty of tone" that, according to RosellenBrown, "manages to trivialize .

Sylvia Plath - Poet | Academy of American Poets

I wantto suggest that there may be a kind of psychic dismemberment signifiedby the separation of self thus from one's nurturers; denying their influenceis like peeling off layers of her own self--or cutting off important members.