The Bell Jar
That being said, this was probably one of the most beautifully written and constructed novels I've ever read. Sylvia Plath has the strangest mixture of funny/heartbreaking writing ever.
About a quarter of the way through I had the notion that this book might be a quirky account of a mental breakdown filled with witty cynicisms and some incredible metaphors ever. However, towards the middle things started to get drastically more depressing.
The book tells the story of a nineteen year-old girl going through a mental meltdown and being hospitalized and trying to recover and regain her old self.
She describes her mental illness as being enfolded inside a bell jar that has descended onto her. She feels imprisoned inside it like she's breathing her own stale air.
It's a relatively short book but it's very emotional. You can tell Sylvia Plath has poured everything she has into this. It was at times difficult to get through
This book sucked me in from the very beginning. It is semi-autobiographical, and it is heartbreaking to read things that Sylvia herself probably went through. Esther is the main character and she starts out pretty "perfect", she won an essay and goes to New York as a great prize. She does notice that there is something "wrong" with her that summer, but she can't understand why, because she has a good life. It spirals from there to suicide attempts, to doctor's visits, to being committed, to electroshock therapy and interacting with other people who are in the asylums too. We also get to see her interactions with Buddy, her foremost "suitor" and other men, while she struggles with her virginity a bit. It's not pretty, but it's not supposed to be. She continues to have "normal" thoughts while suffering. Thoughts like "There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know any of them... I never feel so much myself as when I'm in a hot bath." She says that she seemed to be inside a bell jar with no way out. Sometimes the jar would raise a little bit and seem to be ready to let her go, but it would always come back down and keep her there. There seems to be no one thing or any combination of things to contribute to her downward spiral. It could happen to anyone, and they would be just as helpless to stop it as Edith was. Was Edith (or Sylvia) really going crazy or just suffering from some medical issue, schizophrenia the foremost guess? After this book, I am really looking forward to reading her poems. It's heartbreaking to think what she may have accomplished had she not died so young. In today's society and all the sensationalism, I truly enjoyed this book for it's honesty and it puts some of the more recent books to shame.
There is a fine line between genius and lunatic, and Plath's "The Bell Jar" keeps you wondering just when the protaganist, Esther Greenwood, crossed this line. Plath presents insanity so well that there comes a point when I, as a reader, began to see sanity in the thoughts of Esther Greenwood.
One word: weird.
I have to disagree with the other reviewer, I found this book to be very inspirational. I think it is very dark, but sometimes life isn't all happy and fun, you know?
It's different. And truly, that's what I love about it. The Bell Jar is the tale of Esther Greenwood, a woman coming to the realization that she's slowly driven insane. The most connecting part of this book is when you realize that truly, this novel is like an autobiography of Sylvia Plath.
I would truly recommend it. It is definitely a different view of life that what our parents shelter us to see. Take a different perspective.
I'm not sure I get this book. It's more for adults and older readers. It's about a college girl, Esther, and it details her life and how she ends up in an asylum (or ayslum).
It's told kinda dark and bitterly. Not a fun read.