Structure

The excerpt from the novel The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath is structured around Esther’s visit to Doctor Gordon’s office. During her visit, the girl thinks about her problems and develops feelings of resentment for the Doctor, who does not seem very interested in helping her. The plot structure does not resemble that of a traditional short story because the text you have to analyze is only an excerpt from a novel. However, within the excerpt, we can identify an exposition, a rising action, and a falling action.

Title

The novel’s title is The Bell Jar. A bell jar is a glass vessel which resembles a bell and which is mostly used in laboratories for experiments. The purpose of the bell jar is to create a vacuum and to keep whatever is inside it in the same state, unaltered by the exterior conditions. Generally, bell jars were used for decorative purposes – as covers for clocks, for example – or for experiments, maintaining plants or for taxidermy (animal preservation).

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Beginning

The beginning of the excerpt, which can be seen as an exposition in this context, shows Esther contemplating Doctor Gordon’s office:

Doctor Gordon’s waiting room was hushed and beige. The walls were beige, and the carpets were beige, and the upholstered chairs and sofas were beige. There were no mirrors or pictures, only certificates from different medical schools, ...

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Middle

In the rising action, Esther forms her opinion of Doctor Gordon. Before meeting him, Esther imagined an older doctor who could immediately guess her problems, help her understand them, and guide her towards getting better. However, Doctor Gordon is young, “almost pretty” (p. 224, l. 21),...

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Ending

The ending of the excerpt in your textbook resembles a falling action. After listening to what Esther has to say,...

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