Friday, September 6, 2013

Recently Read: The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath is one of the best books I have read so far this year. This is Plath's only novel, and it is considered to be semi autobiographical.

Plath, like the main character in the book Esther, suffered from depression. Esther is a normal college girl who is attending a women's college on scholarship in the 1960's. She is known for her remarkable grades and all the professors think she is brilliant. Despite her seemingly normal and  happy life, Esther starts to fall apart. The book chronicles her descent into depression as she looses her rational thought.
The book is so powerful and Esther's thoughts are so strong they almost seem to be normal while you are reading the book. One of the most powerful images from the book is when Esther compares the life choices a young woman must make to a fig tree. Esther above all questions the role of women in relationships, marriage, and the world in general which I found to be really interesting. There is not a lot of plot to the book, the book mostly consists of Esther's thoughts and how the minor events of a day affect her, which some people may find boring. I tend to really enjoy books like this, that are character studies and character driven more so than plot based. If you enjoyed The Catcher in the Rye, This Side of Paradise, or Mrs. Dalloway you will more then likely not be bothered by this aspect of the book.
I highly recommend this book. I think the questions Esther has about a woman's place in marriage and in the world are still relative to women today. I also found Esther's thought process on her decent into madness and her rise to normalcy to be really intriguing. The ending of the book leaves the reader to decide what happens next, and if you have read the book I would love to know what you think happens to Esther.   

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