‘The Bell Jar’ and ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ both explore deteriorating mental stability as a result of the oppression,in society which is possibly due to heightened tension of the cold war. Societies insist of conformity of the individual is explored in the novels embodied particularly in the protagonists resistance.
The authors explore their difficulties through relatable characters which are accessible to the implied reader who represent the every man and every woman such as Esther in ‘The Bell Jar’ who echoes Sylvia Plath’s’ life. Both Kesey and Plath explore these personal struggles through their alienation and “identity paranoia” which evokes the struggles they face by being unable to break free from their inner world of isolation. ‘The Bell Jar’ also explores the hardship faced by women in a patriarchal society and how they were viewed by men.
The way Esther feels like a failure even though she has won the internship for her writing ways, introduces us to her breakdown- “I hadn’t slept for twenty-one nights” – as well as her attempt to commit suicide which then results in her being put in a mental hospital; Indicating being different from what society expects leads to the hospital. This leads us to ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ in which the mental asylum is used as a microcosm of society and the parallels between Esther and Chief Bromden reflect the failure of the individual to conform. Esther faces social isolation and Chief Bromden is repeatedly seen as a “dumb” and “deaf” Native American. The book also explores the suffering of men within the society. Although the gender of the protagonist is different