What is surprising about The Bell Jar is that, among the characters, Mrs. Greenwood makes relatively few appearances. We sense, of course, that a tremendous tension exists between Esther and her mother, but for the most part it's implied and not dealt with as openly as it might be.
In Freudian theory, the personality type that constantly finds fault with others stems from a dissatisfaction or disappointment with the "mother figure." Mrs. Greenwood is distant. Esther says her mother takes care not to "tell her what to do," but rather to deal with her as one mature person to another, but this isn't really the case. Her mother's small and abrupt comments are judgmental. She announces curtly to Esther that "you didn't make that writing course" in the car after dumping a pile of letters upon her. A small incident like this implies a remoteness that's probably a main source of Esther's problem.
Similarly, Mrs. Greenwood doesn't believe Esther about her inability to sleep. The fact of Esther's...
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