The Bell Jar Doreen: A Fascinating Character In Sylvia Plath’s Classic Novel

The Bell Jar HarperCollins Publishers
The Bell Jar HarperCollins Publishers from


Sylvia Plath’s novel, The Bell Jar, published in 1963, is a captivating piece of literature that delves into the dark depths of mental illness. One of the most intriguing characters in this novel is Doreen, a vibrant and enigmatic young woman who befriends the protagonist, Esther Greenwood. This article explores the complexities of Doreen’s character, her impact on the storyline, and her significance within the context of the novel.

Doreen: A Symbol of Rebellion

Doreen is portrayed as a rebellious character, unafraid to challenge societal norms and expectations. She defies the traditional roles imposed on women during the 1950s, embracing her sexuality and refusing to conform. Her boldness and refusal to conform make her an emblem of liberation and self-expression.

The Dynamic Friendship Between Doreen and Esther

Esther and Doreen’s friendship is central to the plot of The Bell Jar. Their contrasting personalities create an intriguing dynamic, with Esther being introverted and Doreen extroverted. Despite their differences, they find solace in each other’s company, navigating the complexities of their lives together.

Doreen’s Influence on Esther

Doreen serves as a catalyst for Esther’s self-discovery and rebellion against societal expectations. Through Doreen’s influence, Esther begins to question and challenge the oppressive gender roles imposed on women. Doreen’s free-spirited nature inspires Esther to break free from the constraints of her own life.

The Charismatic Charm of Doreen

Doreen’s charisma is undeniable. Her vivacious personality and magnetic presence draw people towards her. However, beneath her seemingly carefree exterior lies a troubled soul, battling her own demons. Doreen’s complexity adds depth to her character, making her one of the most memorable in the novel.

Doreen: A Mirror of Esther’s Desires

Esther is both fascinated and repelled by Doreen’s lifestyle. Doreen embodies the freedom Esther longs for but is afraid to pursue. The dichotomy between their desires and actions highlights Esther’s internal struggle, as she grapples with societal expectations and her own aspirations.

The Symbolism of Doreen’s Name

Symbolism plays a significant role in The Bell Jar, and Doreen’s name holds deeper meaning. Derived from the Greek word “Doros,” meaning “gift,” Doreen represents a gift of enlightenment for Esther. Through her friendship with Doreen, Esther gains a new perspective on life and begins her journey towards self-discovery.

Doreen: A Voice for Female Sexuality

In a time when discussions of female sexuality were often taboo, Doreen fearlessly embraces her own desires and challenges societal norms. Her portrayal in The Bell Jar is a powerful representation of female sexuality, breaking the silence surrounding women’s sexual experiences and desires.

Doreen’s Tragic Fate

Despite her allure and vivacity, Doreen’s character also embodies tragedy. Her tumultuous life mirrors the struggles faced by many women in the 1950s. Doreen’s ultimate fate serves as a reminder of the consequences of societal constraints and the importance of breaking free from them.

The Enduring Legacy of Doreen

Even after nearly six decades since the novel’s publication, Doreen remains an iconic character. Her rebellion, complexity, and unapologetic nature continue to resonate with readers today. Doreen’s character is a testament to Sylvia Plath’s ability to create multidimensional and relatable female characters.


The Bell Jar Doreen is an unforgettable character in Sylvia Plath’s timeless novel. Her rebellious spirit, influence on the protagonist, and symbolic significance make her an integral part of the story. Doreen’s legacy continues to captivate readers, reminding us of the importance of individuality and the power of breaking free from societal constraints.