10 Apr 2012

Literary review - Sylvia Plath's 'The Bell Jar'

Published: 1963
Basic plot: The Bell Jar tells the story of a gifted young woman's mental breakdown beginning during a summer internship as a junior editor at a magazine in New York City in the early 1950s (from Amazon)
I really enjoyed reading The Bell Jar, but I don't think it will go in my favourites. It seems the real story is its autobiographical nature, and Plath's later suicide, which I have to admit makes Esther Greenwood's descent in depression all the more chilling. She spends a great deal of the novel contemplating (quite rationally and calmly) which method of committing suicide she should take, which you can't help but imagine that the thoughts are Plath's herself. I did some research and it seems that most of the events in the novel are fictionalised versions of events in Plath's own life, so if your interested in Sylvia Plath, I definitely recommend this novel. I also think this novel is a good read for someone interested in/experiencing mental illness, if I wasn't an English Literature student, I would be a Psychology student. The Bell Jar is also relatable in a more general way; being a teenager on the brink of adulthood, suddenly unsure what you should do with the rest of your life. It is a story told a thousand times, but Plath's inner monologue about these indecisions is poignant and honed in on some truths in mine and my peers' lives, even if it is set in a completely different era. The reason why I liked but didn't love The Bell Jar was that I found the opening 'New York' chapters easy to read, but lacked substance, I'm sure they have significance, but this is from a casual reader's point of view, no english literature student hat on. The Bell Jar is a satisfying and interesting novel, but may be one that will fade from my memory. 

1 comment:

  1. This is one of my favourite ever books! Sylvia Plath was so talented.

    Thanks for the review :) I am happy to see this book is still getting passed around so many years after it was written.

    - Fifi