chapter  4
35 Pages

The Origins of the Bell Jar

There is a common assumption, even among scholars, that the most important connection between Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath is the last thing that they ever did. This chapter presents the importance of the textual, psychoanalytic and even cultural links between Plath's writing and Woolf's, and between the writing of these two twentieth-century writers and their nineteenth-century literary mother, Charlotte Bronte. By evaluating the textual relationships between the works of these three writers, people can read them as literary mothers and daughters - as progenitors and inheritors. Most importantly, by studying Plath's typescripts, and her heavily underlined and annotated copy of Villette, can look afresh at the position of the mother and of the character of Buddy Willard in The Bell Jar. Brontë's nineteenth-century text can be read as a template for Plath's novel. Looking at Villette and The Bell Jar together enriches the understanding of both books.