The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar

Book - 2005
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The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under -- maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that Esther's insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.
Publisher: New York : HarperPerennial, 2005
Edition: 1st Harper Perennial Modern Classics ed
ISBN: 9780060837020
0060837020
Characteristics: 244, 22 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Ames, Lois
McCullough, Fran 1939-

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r
re_discover
Oct 24, 2017

I read The Bell Jar as part of my 2017 Reading Challenge, in the category of a book written by an author using a pseudonym. There is no real story. I feel like I do not know anything about Ester, who is the main character.

m
montse93
Aug 28, 2017

interesting and engaging read!

m
mab0411
Apr 16, 2017

I am going to reread this since the subject matter really interests me and the author tragically took her life right after writing this book about a depressed character (semi autobiographical). I remember a slightly 1950's diction and a claustrophobic feeling while reading it and the author possibly being something of a self imposed outsider but I am giving it another read, I may have missed something on the first go and may not be remembering everything. Maybe there is some insight to be found about why this talented young writer killed herself and what kind of help she sought and received if any. Good books are worth reading more than once, in my experience. Some books I have read many times despite remembering them completely.

v
vicky84027
Apr 15, 2017

Eight months lapsed from the moment that I picked up this book until I finished its last line. I'm not going to lie – early portions of this novel are not easy to process with its painstakingly redundant and seemingly irrelevant observations that compromise the pace of the story, diluting its dramatic intensity. However, as soon as one passes the wall-hitting phase, everything comes to life and a vivid reality is set into motion by the shear force of Plath's ingenious manipulation of the English language.

As the protagonist, Esther Greenwood, slowly descends into madness, she ascends spiritually, for madness has afforded her detachment and clairvoyance to look at the world from a third-person perspective. This novel offers a refreshing and poignant view on mental struggles and the inherent absurdity of conformity vs. choice.

h
hailzz
Oct 31, 2016

A novel full of brilliance, lesson, and ambition.
I loved it. The book is contained of deep and rather sad meanings. It is a book of pure depression.
A story of hard work and determination which the character accomplishes as she comes from nothing and makes success of that... only to find that in particular that success cannot motivate or fulfill a deep emptiness that lies in her. That emptiness which her depression constantly suffocates her and how in that era the contrast between dealing with mental illness between now is of great deal of change. An unsettling, haunting yet intriguing novel. Depression in this novel is metaphorically related as a Bell Jar covering Esther, alienating her from reality and distorting her perception of life. She also says "stewing in my own sour air" under the jar meaning she is trapped in her depressive thoughts. Definitely a must read novel.

AL_ANDREW Aug 29, 2016

Plath weaves a haunting descent and experience with depression into a beautifully descriptive setting and plot.

m
Makemoney
Jul 05, 2016

I find Esther's descent into insanity a little rushed or hasty.

l
laphampeak
Jun 16, 2016

We go to a time and place where understanding of mental illness was less understood and certainly treated differently. Social mores concerning sexuality and marriage were strict. Plath's character, Esther, shared her "living under the bell jar." She fought mental imbalance and walked the thin line of staying alive and well vs. the obsession with putting an end to her life.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 02, 2016

Esther Greenwood is a wonderful protagonist and the insight into Plath's life is equally fascinating and haunting. It's unfortunate that she lived such a short life.

d
danthetiredboi
Apr 27, 2016

I truly loved this book. It shows how insanity can go unnoticed by one and how getting better can also go unnoticed. I've heard that this was depressing (I've read worse) but I really like it anyways. A true classic.

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s
ssk22
Jul 06, 2016

“If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.”

SPL_STARR Jun 15, 2015

"It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York."

Laura_X May 01, 2015

So I began to think maybe it was true that when you were married and had children it was like being brainwashed, and afterward you went about as numb as a slave in a totalitarian state.

a
AngelaLib
Jun 17, 2011

"There must be quite a few things a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them."

a
AngelaLib
Jun 17, 2011

"There must be quite a few things a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them."

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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

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RICHARD LIU
Mar 25, 2012

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

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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.

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