The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath - Book Review

The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath - Book Review

Not only did the author’s work often raise controversy, but her life is still a hot topic that many discuss to this day.

One might think that Plath’s Unabridged Journals were the reason behind the diverted attention from her rich work.

Others argue that Plath intentionally raised some questions about her as a way of grabbing more attention to her words.

If you are interested in learning more about who the poet really was, you might want to consider reading “You Said It” for Connie Palmen where the Dutch author gives a voice to Ted Hughes -Plath’s husband- and explores the depth of their tragic relationship.

Hughes also explained Plath’s mindset when she was writing her only novel. She wanted to create a “potboiler” where she takes into account the popular tastes during the creation. The poet wanted to write a best-seller novel just like The Snake Pit from 1946.

In the Bell Jar, Plath managed, just like always, to reach the hearts of many young readers by capturing the common struggles they often go through with mental illness, breakdowns, and identity crises.

The book explores the life of the narrator, Esther Greenwood, as a graduate from Massachusetts who wins a one-month paid internship at Ladies Day magazine. The 19-year-old then travels to New York where she stays at the Amazon Hotel.

The novel dives deep into the identity issues that the poet-to-be is struggling with and her contrasting views on femininity. The internal conflict is shown in the other two interns that Esther gets close to.

The first is sexual Doreen who is rebellious, determined, and carless, and the other one is virginal Betsy who symbolizes innocence. Buddy Willard, Esther’s boyfriend, is a Yale medical student who ridiculed everything the narrator held dear to her heart such as literature, poetry, and creation.

Not only did her boyfriend minimize her dreams, but her mother also disapproved of her ambitions.

Esther then returns to Boston after her failure in getting accepted in a writing class, to spend the summer with her mother instead. With several failed attempts to write a novel, she then makes several failed suicide attempts only to end up overdosing on sleeping pills. Esther awakens to find herself admitted to a hospital and then she shortly gets sent to a psychological ward.

The novel represents the true author’s feelings and desire to end her life and her suffering from several mental issues that were mostly clouded by her never-ending confusion.

Many even went to the extent of considering this novel to be almost an autobiography. The poet then tragically ends her life within a month after she published her only novel.

Book Details

Title: The Bell Jar
Format: Hardcover
Author: Sylvia Plath
Language : English
Publisher : HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0060174903

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