the bell jar

title: The Bell Jar

author: Sylvia Plath

genre: Fiction, psychological break, psych ward, poet

dates read: August 20th – August 21st

review: 3.75 out of 5 stars

summary: Esther Greenwood, while brilliant, is losing it. Her life is not going the way she imaged and she tries to commit suicide a few times, though something always stops her and she gives up. Seeing that her daughter is not doing well, her mother takes her to see a psychiatrist who gives her electroconvulsive therapy.   After this episode she refuses to see the psychiatrist again and is eventually placed in a mental hospital after she swallows 50 sleeping pills and is discovered by her mother. She beings to improve at the mental hospital and it looks like life might be looking up again for Esther.

personal thoughts: Eh.   At first I was excited to read this, and thought the writing was captivating and beautiful.   Eventually I found Esther to be really whiny and selfish. She’s supposed to be brilliant, but I didn’t see it; instead I saw a very immature woman who was mostly crazy. While the writing itself was very well done, I did not like Esther and that made the book difficult to read since it’s from her perspective. Oh well.

favorite quotes:
“I felt myself melting into the shadows like the negative of a person I’d never seen before in my life.” p. 10

“That’s one of the reasons I never wanted to get married. The last think I wanted was infinite security to be the place an arrow shoots off from. I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket.” p. 83

“If Mrs. Guinea had given me a ticket to Europe, or a round-the-world cruise, it wouldn’t have made one scrape of difference to me, because wherever I sat – on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok – I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.” p. 185


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