Esther Greenwood is a young woman growing up in the 1950s. She is beautiful and talented, but unfortunately she only realizes her flaws. Eventually, these flaws add up, from not getting chosen for a writing workshop to not wanting to marry the man who loves her. Esther feels that she will never be able to live up to people’s expectations which causes her to be depressed. When Esther’s suicide attempt fails, she is admitted into a mental asylum. Will Esther be able to once and for all move on by finally lifting the bell jar or will the bell jar ultimately trap her, causing infinite misery?
The Bell Jar follows Esther’s descend into a mental collapse, which reflects Sylvia Plath’s own life. As you have probably guessed by now, this is not a book that will put you in a cheerful mood. Instead, readers will find themselves in a rather bleak mood. One of the most harrowing parts of the novel is knowing that Plath used Esther to reflect her own life. Reading a story about a depressed woman is sad enough, but reading a true story about a depressed woman who later committed suicide is beyond sad.
Throughout the novel, Plath’s writing is sporadic. Esther frequently changes topics, and this gives readers an insight look at Esther’s insanity. Plath also did not hold back anything to readers. For me, the most revealing part of the novel was after Esther’s “meeting” with the math professor. Even right now, I am not quite sure why Plath felt it necessary to go into details about Esther’s after-experience. Anyway, overall I enjoyed The Bell Jar, but I do not think I will ever read it again.
If you have been looking for female version of Holden Caulfied, then Esther Greenwood is your match.