SUMMARYTHE PROBLEM OF MATURATION IN THE BELL JAR BY SYLVIA PLATH AND THE CATCHER IN THE RYE BY J.D. SALINGER
In my Master’s thesis I have focused The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I have compared the situations of the two protagonists Esther Greenwood and Holden Caulfield as they are growing up in the postwar period of the 1950s, in the American northeast. I have written 3 chapters where I discuss the themes of societal struggles, death and the symbolism in the novels, as I think these are prominent elements in both works. These two characters experience similar struggles of how to mature and fit into their society. They experience external pressures to conform as men and women in their respective environments and can both be seen as going through existential struggles. As the novels take place in the same time period, the protagonists are surrounded by the same political pressures and a growing mass-media culture that they are both critical of in their own ways. Esther and Holden can both be seen to struggle with a troubled past they have not yet properly dealt with and this makes the maturation process much more difficult. The Symbolism in both novels conveys messages of these characters’ troubled states of mind and illustrates how they experience their surroundings. In my conclusion I have and compared how I see the various elements in both novels to fit together and to convey similar yet different messages on the problems of young people’s maturation, and these struggles can be seen as being more specifically influenced by society in the postwar period.