Isolation may be of two forms: deliberate or forced. Deliberate, in the sense that the individual chose to isolate himself from the world for a time, perhaps to evaluate his actions and others' reactions towards them and identify the time his views were questioned. At this point, he might think that he is in the position to judge others or occurrences as either appropriate or otherwise. He becomes the point of reference--he sets standards, which might be way beyond what is generally acceptable. During isolation, he may re-construct reality and the pieces that have been altered may find its way back to its recent condition. He might even check his motives and see whether he should accept others' belief system. This is the time that he goes back from where nature dictates him to be: looking up and not looking down.
Forced isolation, on the other hand, occurs when the individual cannot control himself anymore and his construction of reality goes against every dictates of society; even to the point of questioning God for the supposed ambiguity in his perspectives. In the process, he would create a make believe world where the concept of "right" and "wrong" is based on what he believes is "right" and "wrong." Hence, he is considered by society in the verge of insanity. Eventually, he is sent to a mental institution and stays there until considered by medical practitioners mentally fit.
Such has been the case of Esther Greenwood, the protagonist in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar.
The story chronicles Esther's descent to madness and her struggle to escape from it. "From the first page of The Bell Jar, with Esther Greenwood describing a day in New York City during the summer of 1952, when she is a guest-editor of Mademoiselle magazine, Sylvia Plath vividly re-creates the perspective of a depressed, highly intelligent, sensitive young woman who feels herself losing contact with reality (Shields, 1995)." Quite contradictory to her present situation: a person who could be considered has reached mastery of her craft (since she is now occupying the editor's post and not just an ordinary freelance writer) are the accompanying images - "depressedsensitive," hence creating a character who is feels lacking in every sense that she feels she has lost contact with reality.
What has caused her mental instability Perhaps her hostility toward men and the double standards set by society on men and women. Esther's outer personality and her inner identity are in constant conflict throughout the novel. She assesses her past life, especially the value of studying for academic awards, her present desire for personal fulfillment as a woman, and her need to choose a professional career for the future that will both support her financially and fulfill her aesthetically. Her inability to find solutions that will include all of these needs drives her into a reclusive mental state.
At this point, it is important to note that "the novel emerges from a specific context: it was written by an American living in London during a period of heated political debate about the future of Americanness, about a period in the U.S. ten years earlier" (Baldwin, 2004). It is the time when the idea of female containment is overly used. "Containment" is the term coined by George Kennan in 1947 in "The Sources of Soviet Conduct" to