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The media are the mechanisms of enforcement used to maintain a carceral society. Encompassing all forms of mass communication, the media represents a complex technology over society. With the ability to direct information to the masses, they elect the values and ideals that distinguish a culture and its population. In Discipline and Punish, Michel Foucault suggests the soul would not exist without methods of control and discipline. He theorizes society is based on internalized norms and expectations enforced by observation. The watchful eye of the media publicizes the ideologies and behaviors expected of society, while harshly ridiculing unconformities. Foucault presents the idea of the “Panopticon” designed by social theorist Jeremy Bentham. While Foucault uses the “Panopticon” as a diagram of human functioning under direct observation in a disciplinary society, Sylvia Plath presents the metaphorical bell jar as a societal housing in her novel. Both the Panopticon and the bell jar represent the dynamic obedience in the carceral system. Sylvia Plath’s thinly veiled autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, reflects the ideas of mental decline under societal pressures and expectations in the 1950s. Looking at the various news headlines in the text, and applying Foucault’s theories allows for interpretations on social confinement, distinction between public and private spheres, institutionalism, and media influenced conformity. This article overtly analyzes the psychological impact of the media represented in The Bell Jar, and the idea that self-identity is harbored by societal expectations using philosophies from Discipline and Punish.


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  • Subject
    • English

  • Institution
    • Oconee

  • Event location
    • MPR 1

  • Event date
    • 22 March 2019

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Derek Thiess