I recently went on a book shopping spree, and I finally decided to give in and buy The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath; I think almost everyone knows about Sylvia Plath.
The Bell Jar is a fictitious biography of the author, Sylvia Plath managed to capture what it is live in the 1950s as woman while battling depression quite beautifully, I would say for the lack of a better word. Esther Greenwood’s account of going on free trip to New York, living and studying at an all-girls hotel and college and her observations of the people around her is witty and funny at best, but that’s where all the fun stops; coming back to live with her mother and spiraling in to depression with constant thoughts on how to kill herself, made one feel as emotionless as the narrator herself. Sylvia Plath in this novel of hers conveyed the message that depression is not just being “very sad” but also feeling absolutely nothing at all, feeling hollow inside.
Sylvia Plath managed to capture how one feels when they finally encounter the real world with accurate precision, and perhaps this still applies even today after about 50 years. “I felt like a racehorse in a world without racetracks or a champion college footballer suddenly confronted by Wall Street and a business suit, his days of glory shrunk to a little gold cup on his mantel with a date engraved on it like the date on a tombstone.”
Not all poets can write a novel like all authors cannot write a poem. Sylvia Plath is one of those who I personally think managed to as a Poet write a brilliant novel. Even though it was a fictitious account of her personal experiences, there is this chapter in the book where Esther Greenwood decides to write a novel and thinks to herself “My heroine would be myself, only in disguise.” Which makes one think, is it what really Sylvia Plath thought while writing this book?
The use of shock therapy for mental illnesses in that time period and whenever Esther received them and how she described them made me as a reader feel extremely uncomfortable. All the time Esther spends at the hospital showed how the world had absolute zero awareness regarding mental health. Overall this is a absolutely beautifully written book and Plath’s poetic prowess can be seen in the way she wrote about Esther’s thoughts and dialogues.
There were times that I while reading this book forgot it is a work of fiction not the actual biography of Sylvia Plath herself, I absolutely loved it. This is a book for anyone who likes a good classic and isn’t afraid to read about depression, mental illnesses and suicide should definitely give this book a go.