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Paper Title
Identity Crisis and Quest for Self-Autonomy in The Bell Jar


Anika, Ayman; Barman, Binoy


Identity crisis has been a long-discussed topic in English literature and it is vastly connected with the notion of self-autonomy. Most of the works of Sylvia Plath—regarded as one of the dynamic and controversial poets of the twentieth century—centre around the themes of identity crisis and self-autonomy that are intricately woven into the fabric of twentieth-century English literature. Through the character of Esther Greenwood in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (1963), this paper investigates how identity crisis takes its origin in the psyche of Plath’s heroine, a middle-class woman coming of age in 1950s America. Moreover, this paper equally shows what role the ideology of cultural containment of 1950s America has played in fracturing Esther’s self-esteem and sense of individuality. The researcher has reasoned that Esther’s individual suffering transcends the immediate vicinity of her personal space and resonates with the struggles that the female population of that time went through, thus making it a generic experience which has become a predominant issue of discussion in the modern era. Finally, the researcher demonstrates the ways via which Esther is able to win back her personalized identity and autonomy, though not fully but partially. Keywords: Identity crisis, Self-autonomy, Mental illness


Identity crisis, Self-autonomy, Mental illness

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