The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”

Genre: Fiction

Book Jacket Synopsis:Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.”

Review: I somehow managed to miss out on reading The Bell Jar in middle school/high school, and thought it was high time I check this classic off my list. Overall, I think that The Bell Jar is a very well-written book, and I appreciated the unique cast of characters that Plath created. Plath’s talent as a poet is immediately apparent in the lyrical way she writes.

“I laid my face to the smooth face of the marble and howled my loss into the cold salt rain.”

There were, however, a few things that I didn’t like about The Bell Jar. I found that it was difficult to feel like I really knew and understood Esther (although perhaps that was part of Plath’s objective). In a similar vein, I never felt truly engaged in Esther’s world. My favorite books are the ones that draw me in and refuse to let go, even after the last pages are turned. Overall, I felt very neutral and detached at the end of The Bell Jar, which is why I gave this classic a three star rating.

Reason for Ban/Challenge: The Bell Jar has been banned for a number of reasons, including perceived profanity and its coverage of both suicide and sexuality. The novel also rejects “typical” ideas of a woman’s role as both mother and wife.







One thought on “The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

  1. I graduated college with a BA in English lit in 1976 and have just finished reading The Bell Jar! How is it possible I’ve only just read this very famous novel??

    I’m a mother who has an adult child who suffers from serious mental illness (schizophrenia), and while reading The Bell Jar, I became aware that Esther’s breakdown was more than severe depression, I think schizophrenia as well! Her symptoms, from paranoia, lack of interest, flat, monotone voice, not sleeping, personal hygiene gone, and even the triggering events….. fascinating! I wonder if Plath had schizophrenia herself?

    Liked by 1 person

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