Bringing Up Books: The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 

The Bell Jar is a journey through the depression and mental breakdown of the main character, Esther. As a young woman in 1950’s, much is expected of Esther from academics and appropriate careers to motherhood and family life, but she is neither interested  nor excited by any of those things. She receives an intership in New york and the lack of interest in what all the other young women seemed to share becomes apparent. After the month stay, she returns home and finds a growing sense of depression. Unable to read, write or sleep her mother takes her to a psychiatrist who prescribes electroshock therapy, which is not preformed correctly and only forwards her growing depression. After suicide attempts, she becomes a patient of a mental hospital where she is administered different types of therapy.

The tone of The Bell Jar is serious. Filled with flash backs on Esthers life, it is very reflective. The battle of her depression is slow and in my opinion the book reflects the depression itself. The book seems to make the reader feel it is not going anywere, not  accomplishing anything, it just keeps trudging on because it has nothing else to do. I love Sylvia Plath’s poetry, but, as Plath’s only novel, for me this story was too slow and although it is interesting to watch the breakdown of Esthers character and how the steady, monotone of the book makes me share in the depression.

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