‘The Bell Jar’: The World Is A Bad Dream

Posted: October 15, 2011 by jerkmag in BLOGS WE LIKE, CRISP -- health, VAULT -- archives
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“The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath

A classic isn’t a classic because it has reached some measure of perfection on the page, but rather because it has resonated with more people on a deeper level than other books. This is the story of Esther, a bright college girl who has made a life out of winning scholarships and academic prizes, but is in danger of breaking under the pressure of expectations. Her narration is articulate and often truly funny. Her love of words comes through as she writes with precision about the sense of being under the bell jar.

Plath was, at heart, more of a poet than a novelist,  which is evident often enough in her prose. Her descriptions are lovely–and yes, at times, even poetic–and always minutely observed. This is a highly auto-biographical account by Plath of a young college girl finding that when she should be most excited about her life, she instead finds that things aren’t exactly as they seemed and that the culture of the 1950s doesn’t seem to allow for all that she wants. This transitional time in her life brings her to a period of deep depression and obsession with suicide.

When you’re in the throes of depression, no fortune, trip around the world, award, love, gorgeous weather, or satisfying work looks remotely bright. Some days it’s all you can do to take a shower. Life looks black, hopeless, and utterly without meaning, and Plath captures that well. Even though the novel is dark, it’s more about the spirit of survival when you are trapped inside yourself and fearful because the rest of the world expects something completely different from you–something you cannot give them.

-Vania Myers
  1. nadjma says:

    definitely going to pick this up, great review

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