Year of Publication Date: 2008 (first published in 1963)
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Genre: Classics, feminism, mental health
Strong Point: The book’s atmosphere is suffocating, mimicking the mood Esther’s mind. So you really feel like a part of the main character’s mind.
Weak Point: It took a while for for me to really get inside the story. But it can just be me!
Books on Tour Rating: (4/5)
Goodreads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4.01/5)
“THE BELL JAR”
This book has grown on me. I started to read it thinking it was very boring and depressing but as the story develops in the second part of the book, I found myself reaching for it to know what was going on with Esther Greenwood.
I can relate to many parts of Esther’s life, so her “sufferings” have touched me very deeply in numerous parts of the book. There are even some sentences that Esther says that I myself have repeated a lot of times. The image of the Bell Jar is quite accurate, as it describes perfectly the feeling of suffocation one may feel staying “under it”.
The knowledge that the author committed suicide shortly after the publication of the book made the reading quite uncomfortable at times as I sometimes had the feeling that what I was reading was, in fact, Plath’s diary and not a fiction book.
Anyway, I strongly recommend this book as it is beautifully written in a very elegant style and it depicts very accurately the way society behaves with mental illnesses and those who suffer them, even nowadays.
The parts where Esther depicts the electroshocks she receives as a treatment to “cure” her are quite frightening and made me realize that these things used to happen not so long ago, that those types of “treatments” where used in mentally-ill patients, and how wrong this all was.
MY DISCOVERY OF SYLVIA PLATH
It is thanks to this book that I have discovered Sylvia Plath, the person. After having read this book, I have been seeking out information about her work, her life, and its sad end.
Furthermore, I also lost my father when I was very young, so Sylvia’s feelings about this sad part of her life are also my own. Plus I also struggle with my mental health (don’t we all?).
FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT “THE BELL JAR”
This book can be quite hard to read. Its subject matter is a delicate one, and if you are struggling with depression and suicide right now, this may not be the book for you, as it can be a huge trigger. And please, seek for help immediately. Don’t leave it for tomorrow. You can get better!! I speak from experience.
However, if you feel like reading it, I think it would be a good experience. The topics of the book are still to the point nowadays. The way mental illnesses are medically treated and seen by the people today are, thanks God, quite different to when the book was published. However, there is still a very long way to go with mental issues.
In addition to all this, Sylvia’s style is beautiful, very elaborate (She is, first of all, a poet) and although sometimes I was a little bit lost specially with the many descriptions, the reading is still worth it. I assumed this was somehow Plath’s intention, as a way to showing us the chaos in Esther’s mind.
And it even contains some instances of dark humour. What else can we ask for?