Title: The Bell Jar
Author: Sylvia Plath
Genre: Autobiographical Fiction
Quotation: “I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest…”
Would recommend to: someone needing to be reminded that they are not alone.
WARNING: (If you don’t already know this…) Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” is a semi-autobiographical piece of work that talks about her struggle with depression throughout her early adult life.
I read “The Bell Jar” at a time in my life very similar to the main character, Esther. I had just moved to a new city (for the summer), was alone (I had no friends) and was working full-time (I had an internship).
The premise of the story is that Esther Greenwood is in New York, on break from college, where she should be having the time of her life at a summer job, but instead she feels forlorn. She’s disinterested in life and ends up in a mental hospital after various attempts at suicide. The book also highlights the inhumane treatment of mental disorders during the time.
I was able to relate to a lot of the themes in the book about depression and the lack of connection to conventional experiences.
I think a lot of people my age (early twenties) can relate to these ideas, even if they don’t feel like they suffer from depression.
A very important part of the book is that, after Esther leaves the medical institution, she’s worried about “the bell jar” descending again. Essentially, she’s worried that she’s never actually going to be okay and the depression will come back to haunt her. (We now have the knowledge that “the bell jar” did cover her again with it’s depression.)
Although not everyone relates to the depression angle, we can all worry about different aspects of our life coming back to haunt us and make us miserable. For example, a job you got fired from or a bad breakup. Anything can be seen as “the bell jar.”
I think if reader’s try hard enough to see some of themselves in a character, they can relate to a storyline more powerfully. “The Bell Jar” is a great example of that connection.