Book Review: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

January 22, 2013 No Comments »
Book Review: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

by Kimberley Hurdle

“To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead body, the world itself is a bad dream.” A quote from Esther Greenwood summarizes Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar in a nutshell. Living in Boston, Esther is a young woman who receives the opportunity and late has an internship in New York. Noticing the differences in the city, the gray skies, the polluted roads, and the diversity of others; Esther struggles with her experience as a writer alongside her friend Doreen. Though one would usually believe working the in the state of New York is magnificent, Esther herself faces problems to the point where she ends up needing serious medical help. Throughout the book Esther Greenwood portrays a character of being lost and confused, facing challenges such as her surroundings, leading to her instability and unfortunately cannot duly overcome them.
When finishing the last pages of the book, it is clear that Esther tries to prove she has overcome the challenges and instability she encountered. In fact, Esther has not. As one would say, it takes time. The excruciating shock treatments from Doctor Gordon have haunted her, losing her trust for many especially Doctor Nolan. As if Esther thought there was any hope, Joan a friend who was also ill but seemed completely find does the unthinkable. Flashbacks of Buddy Willard, Esther’s “boyfriend” being sick and suicide attempts will always haunt her. Though Esther indeed improves, the events that take place will constantly swim in her mind.
The Bell Jar is partially based on Plath’s own experiences. Esther’s thoughts can reflect on anyone and possibly everyone. This time of her life she did not know who she was while everyone seemed to; a reason to why her mental and emotional instability defined her. She faces, heard, and witnessed the illnesses of others. More than ever, Esther to readers show final emotions that she is not able to overcome the instability. A final quote from Esther Greenwood that can define herself as a whole but leave a strong message is, “if you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed.”



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