The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

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.

Related Links
Sylvia Plath Legacy Library
Amazon
Powell’s

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5 Responses to The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

  1. sarahbaram says:

    This is a great summary of the book, I have read it numerous times and loved it. BUT, how do you feel about it? You said it is not a cheerful read, which is something I assume you felt about it, but what else? You say overall, but what about the smaller things? When I read a book review, those are the comments I am hoping to see.
    Also, even though you do not plan to reread this, and may not want to read a book like it, Prozac Nation is also a great book from this type of genre.
    Keep writing!

    • towerofbooks says:

      Thanks for the constructive criticism. I’ll keep in mind when I write future reviews.

      Prozac Nation seems like an interesting book. I’ll keep it in mind when I’m in the mood for something depressing. 😛

  2. Lisette says:

    This book is so depressing, just like Sylvia Plath’s life. So freakin’ sad. 😦

  3. Amber says:

    Nice review. I read this a long time ago. I liked it, but it wasn’t one I ever thought I would re-read.

  4. amy says:

    This book alone could send a person into depression-I admire you for just finishing it!
    Her poetry is even sadder/
    -amy

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