How does Esther outwardly conform while questioning inwardly?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that there is a level of conformity colliding with a sense of internal questioning within Esther.  In many respects, I think that Plath constructed Esther as the modern woman.  Armed, in a sense, with the understanding that the barriers that used to be present in the past for women are noticeably absent and that freedom is something that can be pursued and embraced there is a social collision between this and the past, traditional social construction of what it means to be a woman.  It is here, in this balance between conformity and inward questioning, where Esther lies.  She "conforms" in as far as she is able to use her intelligence to procure a job that is economically and socially acceptable.  However, she is a modernist character in that she seeks to understand her own approach towards the freedom in modernity.  What does it mean to interact with men?  What does it mean to psychologically reconcile with her own past and the women in her own life and how they wrestle the same demons that she does?  How is she able to construct reality in a setting where so many challenges are both present in so many different forms?  In these realms, there exists questioning in Esther, something for which Plath does not give simple and easy answers.  Rather, she raises the questions and within this, like Esther, we as the reader are left to inwardly question.