The future is extremely ambiguous, and is one of the many wonders that people cannot figure out. Even if people try to plan out the future do not know what the future will hold. In Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar and Bill Cattey’s poem What Is Happening To Me both share the idea that the future is very indecisive and difficult to face.Through Plath’s characterization of Esther and Cattey’s analogies within his poem, they show the frustration a vague future can behold on individuals.
Both Plath and Cattey express the difficulties of an ambiguous future through their works of literature. In his poem, Cattey compares himself to “a blind man learning to see”, saying that he sees his future as clearly as a blind man. The future in Cattey’s eyes has not been found yet. Throughout this poem Cattey uses allusion to compare his ideas in a clear way for the readers to reference his ideas to prior knowledge. He uses this device to also convey the idea that the future is indecisive, and that one must keep searching to piece the “fragments” together.
Through her character, Esther, in The Bell Jar, Plath presents the similar idea that the future is frustrating and unpredictable. Esther’s boss at a magazine company in New York, Jay Cee, had a conversation with Esther in which she inquired her plans for the future. Esther was upset to admit that she truthfully did not know, and after that point of the book, this recurring theme of indecisiveness of the future is seen throughout. Plath uses imagery when comparing Esther’s decisions for the future to the figs on a fig tree.
Each fig represented a different possibility of the future and Esther was “sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death”, because she did not know which fig to choose, just as she was undecided on what her future plans would be. And as she thought about her choice, “the figs began to wrinkle and go black” because time still goes on and those decisions will not be there for one to choose from forever. In this way, Plath uses imagery to express the difficulty of looking towards an unpredictable future.
The characterization of Esther is the driving force of the whole novel, and Esther’s mentality on things such as hopes for the future became bitter. These feelings are what drive her to suicide. There were constant comments about her writing, saying that she will “never get anywhere like that”, which taunted Esther and pressured her into making her view of the future no longer difficult, but impossible. Through the characterization of Esther, Plath shows the struggle and frustration when dealing with an ambiguous future.
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