I was the only girl on the beach in a skirt and high heels, and it occurred to me I must stand out. I had removed my patent leather shoes after a while, for they foundered badly in the sand. It pleased me to think they would be perched there on the silver log, pointing out to sea, like a sort of soul-compass, after I was dead.... The drench seemed to come off the sea floor itself, where blind white fish ferried themselves by their own light through the great polar cold. I saw sharks' teeth and whales' earbones littered about down there like gravestones.
The Bell Jar also contains some important social commentary on male chauvinism, particularly the sort that predominated in the 1950s, as well as a related paternalism in the field of psychiatry. Fundamentally, however, I think Esther's feeling of subjection to the whims of men conveys her larger despair about her place in the world as she gets more and more depressed and begins to see herself as more and more powerless and the world as more and more hostile.
The overarching metaphor of a "bell jar" as a crippling field of distortion surrounding someone's mind in a state of depression is an unforgettable and important contribution to literature in its general project of putting words to human experience. And ironically, given Plath's self-destructive, self-deprecating tendencies, she was an intrepid writer who never backed down from any challenge. After some significant early successes, she wrote a letter that said, "for the few little outward successes I may seem to have, there are acres of misgivings and self-doubt." And yet, even Shakespeare couldn't cow her; in her fabulous poem "Full Fathom Five" she goes toe to toe with him and she's utterly formidable right there in the face of the sea god.