Bell Jar
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A Helpful Book Review Of “The Bell Jar” By Sylvia Plath

Bell Jar

A Helpful Book Review Of “The Bell Jar” By Sylvia Plath

“The Bell Jar” is a novel by Sylvia Plath, published in 1963, January less than one month before its author Sylvia Plath committed Suicide.

It was Ist published under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas.

In 1966 The Bell Jar was published in England under Sylvia’s real name.

By the 1970s it was published in the U.S. It is a semi-autobiographical work that tells the story of Esther Greenwood, a young woman who struggles with mental illness and finds herself feeling lost and disconnected from the world around her.

Brief  Synopsis:

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1932- 1963) is the story of a highly intelligent and talented young woman who, on the surface, seems to have it all. But underneath, she is struggling with depression and a sense of disconnection from the world around her. The story follows her descent into mental illness and her eventual recovery.

Story Line:

  • The book’s protagonist, Esther Greenwood, is a highly intelligent and sensitive college student who wins a prestigious internship at a New York fashion magazine in 1953.

  • As Esther begins her internship, she is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.

  • However, she soon begins to feel overwhelmed and disconnected from the world around her. Despite her success, Esther feels empty and alienated from the world around her.

  • As her depression deepens, she begins to lose touch with reality.

  • Esther struggles with depression and mental illness throughout the novel, and she finds herself unable to connect with her friends and family.

  • She begins to feel trapped and helpless, and she is eventually hospitalized after attempting suicide.

  • As Esther begins to recover, she is faced with the challenge of rebuilding her life and finding a way to live with her illness.

  • The novel ends on a hopeful note, with Esther beginning to find a new sense of purpose and direction in her life.

Style:

Plath’s writing style in “The Bell Jar” is characterized by its stark honesty and introspection. The novel is written in the first person, from Esther’s perspective, and Plath’s writing allows the reader to enter into Esther’s mind and experience her struggles firsthand. The novel is also notable for its use of vivid imagery and symbolism. Plath frequently employs metaphors and similes to describe Esther’s experiences, creating a rich and powerful sensory experience for the reader.

Themes:

“The Bell Jar” explores several themes, including mental illness, gender roles, and the search for identity. The novel is often seen as a feminist work, as it challenges the traditional gender roles of the time and portrays Esther’s struggle to find her own place in the world. The novel also highlights the stigma surrounding mental illness and the challenges faced by those who suffer from it. Esther’s experiences in the hospital and her struggles with her illness are portrayed with great sensitivity and insight.

 

Bell Jar

 

Characters:

Esther Greenwood: She is the protagonist and narrator of the novel. The novel chronicles Esther’s descent into mental illness and her struggle to overcome it.

Mrs. Greenwood: She is Esther’s mother. Since her husband’s death, she has taught typing and shorthand to support her family. Mrs. Greenwood is practical and traditional. She loves her daughter but does not understand her.

Buddy Willard:  Esther’s college boyfriend, who attends Yale medical school.

Mrs. Willard:  Buddy’s mother, is a tweed-wearing, matronly woman, who dispenses maxims about how women must support their husbands. She represents the traditional wife and mother, and Esther views her as a floor mat that gets trampled by men.

Doreen: Esther’s friend at the magazine in New York, is a blond, beautiful, southern college student who tries to help Esther in her relations with men. Esther and Doreen share a cynical outlook. Doreen rebels against societal convention, an attitude that Esther admires but does not entirely embrace.

Betsy: She is from Kansas and also works at the magazine with Esther.

She is sweet and wholesome, Doreen’s opposite. She is Esther’s “innocent” friend. Esther in some ways relates to her more than she does Doreen but cannot understand Betsy’s optimism.

Jay Cee: She is  Esther’s boss and editor of Ladies’ Day magazine. She wants Esther to be more ambitious. She represents the typical career woman: ambitious, confident, and professional.

Constantin: a United Nations simultaneous interpreter, takes Esther out for dinner. He is thoughtful, kind, and accomplished but seems to be sexually uninterested in her.

Marco: He is a tall and handsome Peruvian. He takes Esther on a date to a country club. Violent and sadistic, Marco is a misogynist. He tries to rape Esther, but she fights him off.

Doctor Gordon: He is Esther’s first psychiatrist. He is handsome and conceited and seems uninterested in Esther’s symptoms.

Philomena Guinea: She is Esther’s patron. She is a famous, wealthy, elderly novelist. She finds Esther’s scholarship and pays for Esther to go to a private hospital instead of the state institution.

Doctor Nolan: She is Esther’s psychiatrist at the private hospital. She is kind, sympathetic, and helpful. A progressive woman, she gives Esther the support and understanding she needs. Esther sees her as a mother figure and grows to trust and love Doctor Nolan.

Joan Gilling: She is a large, athletic girl who once dated Buddy Willard and becomes a patient at the private hospital with Esther. Joan emerges as Esther’s double. After Joan’s suicide, Esther must face the reality of death and her own desire to live.

Irwin: He is a young mathematician and college professor with whom Esther chooses to have physical relations because he seems intelligent and experienced and because he is a stranger.

Alvina’s Verdict:

If you’re looking for a book that will leave you feeling both disturbed and inspired, look no further than Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. This novel, which is based on Plath’s own life, chronicles the descent of a young woman into madness. The Bell Jar is not an easy read, but it is a rewarding one. Plath’s writing is beautiful and intense, and her story is both painful and compelling. This is a novel that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it.

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munu.ruku2020@gmail.com
Hi, I'm Munmun here and welcome to my book blog. I'm an English Teacher. But more than that I love to read books and write down my thoughts. I feel we can change the world by circulating the introspections of great columnists throughout the world. You are free to contact me at munu.ruku2020@gmail.com.

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