The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:
45
16
5
 …
This novel--echoing Plath's own experiences as a rising writer/editor in the early 1950s--chronicles the nervous breakdown of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, successful, but slowly going under, and maybe for the last time.
Publisher: New York : HarperPerennial, 2013, c2006
Edition: 50th anniversary ed
ISBN: 9780061148514
0061148512
Branch Call Number: F PLA
Characteristics: xvii, 244 p., 22 p. : ill. ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: McCullough, Fran 1939-
Ames, Lois

Opinion

From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment
b
bruceabas_0
Mar 02, 2021

brilliant artistic reimagining of this author’s early coming of age experience. echoes of Catcher in the Rye. Classic

l
lkim17
Feb 16, 2021

The Bell Jar details the life of Esther Greenwood, from her stay in New York during an internship to her slow spiral into depression as she struggles with her societal image and presence in life. Esther, a young college student, explores and questions her place in the world amidst her career and new life. This novel contains heavy themes of the social roles of women and femininity as well as mental illness. Well crafted, The Bell Jar is able to portray the life of a woman stuck inside a cage of societal expectations. Readers interested in memoirs and realism in stories would enjoy this book greatly.

m
MillieBT
Feb 04, 2021

I enjoyed this book instantly

a
AaronAardvark1940
Jan 04, 2021

Given Plath's own life, calling this novel a "thinly-disguised" autobiography would be generous. Having conversed over several decades with a paranoid schizophrenic myself, I find Esther's actions and inner dialog completely believable. A harrowing study of a disintegrating personality.

a
avocadotree
Dec 11, 2020

Read the book not the comments unless you want everything spoiled by the amateur critics on here.

b
Birdtrovert
Sep 03, 2020

This is a wonderful disaster. Honestly, I want to re-read it because I really do relate to Esther's struggles. You watch this woman spiral into depression and suicidal thoughts. It is a heavy read and there are times when this book can get complicated and a little hard to follow. Still, a very interesting and heartbreaking read.

c
carolwu96
Jul 31, 2020

Esther Greenwood was supposed to be having the time of her life. She had a year until college graduation, pursuing an honors program on a full scholarship and enjoying a vacational internship in Manhattan. Yet she was crumbling on the inside. ⁣

The problems were too numerous. She yearned for independence but could not discern any specific path of her goal. She was self-loathing but also self-sympathetic. She was depressed but did not know it. Rather than a stepping stone towards the future, her time in Manhattan was a self-exploratory journey gone wrong, exposing all the existential, gender, and socioeconomic problems she had been suppressing for too long. ⁣

Sylvia Plath was a powerful writer, especially in her narrative of depression and female oppression. Even before she elucidated the bell jar as the socioeconomic, gender, psychological and social barrier that will forever act as Esther’s personal Sword of Damocles, I had a sense of this gooey, suffocating iridescent purple gel that loomed over the entire book. Whenever I picked it up, it was as if I were holding a piece of airtight grey cloud that was ready to burst. ⁣

While I was reading, I kept imaging this plastic ballerina doll strapped to her pole and her mouth opened wide in a silent scream. I had considered it the product of her latent depression, but at the end of the story, I realized that it was also one of her obsession with the appearance of self-possession. ⁣

While we might not all have personal experiences with depression, many of us also twirl beneath the same burnished bell jar. On it might be a hologram of effortless perfection, but within we are choking on its fatal purple film. The antidote? Probably unobtainable, but if there were an immediate solution, it would be the willingness to at least wipe the illusion of perfection and unite our ambitions and accomplishments with our insecure, imposter-syndrome-filled selves. ⁣

I would have given this book 4 stars had it not been for the racism. While some might say that using derogatory words targeting African, Chinese, Indian and other minorities was a “norm” for Sylvia Plath’s time, the protagonist and narrator, Esther, only uses these words when she wishes to highlight her physical and aesthetic deficiencies. ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
So we know that Esther, and probably Plath herself (since this work is semi-autobiographical) holds some curious racial connotations concerning beauty and appearances. It is not “just slurs.”

d
dlsyed
Jun 17, 2020

Read this for the first time and loved it almost instantly, truly a classic !

c
candlesticktroughs
Feb 12, 2020

Sylvia Plath was one of the 20th century's most famous poets, who stuck her head in her oven,and perished. She was married until death to another (not quite so famous of a) poet, Ted Hughes. Can a woman as unhappy as apparently she was achieve happiness in a marriage?

b
britto9
Feb 03, 2020

I loved this book - the inner monologue, Esther's mentally burdened perspective, the prose, the simplicity of the story. Riding along in Sylvia's psychologically ailed and depressed mind was actually quite refreshing. And I could not get enough of the beautiful way in which she described EVERYTHING. It seemed every other sentence made me think! and helped me see things differently. Leaves blowing across a street, water dripping, etc. were so much more than just leaves blowing across a street, water dripping, etc.

View All Comments

Quotes

Add a Quote
g
Germophobe
Oct 02, 2020

“I didn’t know why I was going to cry, but I knew that if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my eyes and the sobs would fly out of my throat and I’d cry for a week. I could feel the tears brimming and sloshing in me like water in a glass that is unsteady and too full.” p. 100

g
Germophobe
Oct 02, 2020

“Finally, when all the money was used up, I would be moved to a state hospital, with hundreds of people like me, in a big cage in the basement.
The more hopeless you were, the further away they hid you.” p.160

g
Germophobe
Oct 02, 2020

“Her thoughts were not my thoughts, nor her feelings my feelings, but we were close enough so that her thoughts and feelings seemed a wry, black image of my own” p. 219

g
Germophobe
Oct 02, 2020

“To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream.” p.237

g
Germophobe
Oct 02, 2020

“How did I know that someday—at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere—the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn’t descend again?” p.241

ArapahoeTina Nov 15, 2019

"I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am."

ArapahoeTina Nov 15, 2019

“I felt limp and betrayed, like the skin shed by a terrible animal. It was a relief to be free of the animal, but it seemed to have taken my spirit with it, and everything else it could lay its paws on.”

ArapahoeTina Nov 15, 2019

“To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream.”

a
ambdizzle
Aug 23, 2019

“I don’t see what women see in other women,” I’d told Dr. Nolan in my interview that noon. “What does a woman see in a woman that she can’t see in a man?” Dr. Nolan pauses. Then she said, “Tenderness.” That shut me up.

a
ambdizzle
Aug 23, 2019

The floor seemed wonderfully solid. It was comforting to know I had fallen and could fall no further.

View All Quotes

Age

Add Age Suitability
l
lkim17
Feb 16, 2021

lkim17 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

ArapahoeTina Feb 06, 2020

ArapahoeTina thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

EuSei Aug 16, 2012

EuSei thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

EuSei Aug 16, 2012

EuSei thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

r
RICHARD LIU
Mar 25, 2012

RICHARD LIU thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Summary

Add a Summary
s
ssk22
Jul 06, 2016

Sylvia Plath's shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity.

m
Makemoney
Jul 06, 2016

Esther Greenwood, a college student from Massachusetts, travels to New York to work on a magazine for a month as a guest editor. Esther returns to the Boston suburbs and discovers that she has not been accepted to a writing class she had planned to take. She will spend the summer with her mother instead. Esther awakens to find herself in the hospital. She has survived her suicide attempt with no permanent physical injuries. Once her body heals, she is sent to the psychological ward in the city hospital, where she is uncooperative, paranoid, and determined to end her life.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Recommendations

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at OCFPL

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top