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How do Esther's impression of Dr. Gordon and his office make her feel in The Bell Jar?

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pashti | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted September 2, 2013 at 6:33 PM via web

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How do Esther's impression of Dr. Gordon and his office make her feel in The Bell Jar?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 3, 2013 at 5:13 AM (Answer #1)

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It is interesting that Dr. Gordon treats Esther in a way that does not direct and does not tell her what she must do. However, Esther wants to be given a diagnosis and to be told what is wrong with her. In addition, she "hates" Dr. Gordon as soon as she walks into the office because he is "conceited" and because of the picture of his wife and children. The fact that Esther finds him attractive does not help, either. Yet note how Esther describes Dr. Gordon and his office in Chapter 11:

I curled in the cavernous leather chair and faced Doctor Gordon across an acre of highly polished desk.

Note the hyperbole in this quote: the leather chair is described as "cavernous," and his desk has the width of an "acre." Clearly Esther feels overwhelmed and very small in this office, that to her seems to large. What does not help is the habit that Dr. Gordon has of tapping his desk, "tap, tap, tap," throughout the consultation, whilst he is waiting for her to answer. In addition, she finds his eyelashes "artificial" because they are so long, and his beauty too "perfect." All of these facts, combined with the way that he treats her by wanting to hear her ideas of what is wrong with her, makes Esther very upset. She leaves feeling that he has not done anything and that his sessions are a waste of money, even though she will come back.

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