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The Bell Jar is about a young reporter, Esther Greenwood, and her life during an
all expenses paid trip to New York in the 1950’s. Esther won the month long
trip in a fashion magazine, one of only twelve winners. She is jealous of all
the rich girls staying at the all female hotel, especially since it is her first
time out of her humble home in New England. In the presence of all the upper
class girls, she feels out of place and unwelcome. While in New York, Esther
meets Doreen, a social butterfly with no definite personality. While on their
way to a party, they meet a man by the name of Lenny who invites them to have
drinks – they end up bypassing the party. Lenny’s friend is obviously into
Esther, and Lenny is interested in Doreen. Lenny’s friend’s feelings are
unwanted, and Esther spends most of the night trying to get away from him.
Eventually Esther and Doreen are invited to Lenny’s house, and Doreen
convinces Esther to go with her. As things begin to heat up between Lenny and
Doreen, Esther feels out of place and wants to go back to the hotel, but is
unable to because of Doreen’s insisting that she must stay to stop any"funny business" from ocurring. Eventually, Doreen invites the "funny
business" and Esther walks all the way back to her hotel, on the other side of
the city. After that night, Esther decides that she won’t be close to Doreen
and begins to focus her attention on a calmer person with higher goals –
Betsy. After eating as much as possible at a banquet held by the magazine
they’re interning for, Esther and Betsy become ill and vomit everywhere until
they nearly passed out. When Esther wakes up, she finds out that everyone got
food poisoning from the food at the banquet except for Doreen, who was
socializing with Lenny at the time. Doreen tells Esther that the crab everyone
ate had too much bacteria growing in it. Even though Esther is too ill to even
walk around, she enjoys the time in which she doesn’t have to socialize with
others, just sit around and do nothing at all – which is what she really wants
to do anyway.
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Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Mental illness in fiction, The Bell Jar, Esther, Doreen, Lenny and Carl
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