I’ve just finished a book today that I’ve been meaning to read for a number of years: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.
Esther Greenwood is at college and is fighting two battles, one against her own desire for perfection in all things – grades, boyfriend, looks, career – and the other against remorseless mental illness. As her depression deepens she finds herself encased in it, bell-jarred away from the rest of the world. This is the story of her journey back into reality. Highly readable, witty and disturbing, The Bell Jar is Sylvia Plath’s only novel and was originally published under a pseudonym in 1963. What it has to say about what women expect of themselves, and what society expects of women, is as sharply relevant today as it has always been.
I’m glad the book club I’ve just joined has chosen to read this book, since, like I said, I’ve been wanting to read it. I enjoyed the book, though I’m unsure whether it lives up to the hype that I held it to. There’s some good passages and it does explore societal expectations of women and Esther’s reaction to them, which of course is traumatic. I probably would have found this more poignant if I read this in my teens but now that I’m just (barely) out of them I didn’t always quite relate to the character.
I’m glad I read it though. I’m going to have to refer to some study questions to really have a think about it, but it was decent, easy to read, sometimes funny, oftentimes sad. I’d recommend it to those who are interested in depression.