The Bell Jar by Sylvia PlathSylvia Plaths shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity.
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 Esthers 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.
Why should you read Sylvia Plath? - Iseult Gillespie
The Bell Jar
The Bell Jar opens in the summer of Esther Greenwood is a bright nineteen-year-old working as an editorial intern at a popular women's magazine in New York City. Despite her academic promise and ambition, Esther feels isolated from society and discouraged about her future. These early symptoms of depression are aggravated by the pressure she feels to conform to social expectations of what a young woman should be — a virgin until marriage, and after marriage, a wife and a mother. Chided by her boss for not having a clear career focus, Esther goes on a series of dates, the last of which ends with her date attempting to assault her. Esther escapes, and returns home the next morning to her mother's house in the suburbs outside Boston.
It begins in New York with an ominous lightness, grows darker as it moves to Massachusetts, then slips slowly into madness. Esther Greenwood, one of a dozen girls in and on the town for a month as guest editors of a teen-age fashion magazine, is the product of a German immigrant family and a New England suburb. Her imagination is at war with the small-town tenets of New England and the big-time sham of New York. She finds it impossible to be one of the army of college girls whose education is a forced stop on the short march to marriage. The crises of identity, sexuality, and survival are grim, and often funny. Wit, irony, and intelligence as well as an inexplicable, withdrawn sadness separate Esther from her companions.
The Bell Jar is the story of year-old Esther Greenwood, the breakdown she experiences, and the beginnings of her recovery.
quotes if you really love someone
See a Problem?
The tone is the problem. For further use of this material please seek formal permission from the copyright holder. Despite its reputation as the favourite novel of morbidly self-obsessed adolescent girls, it is a much funnier book than many may realise. And it examines the social expectations and toxic culture of s America — a culture that makes finding a positive identity as a woman so difficult that its heroine is driven to self-destruction. Losing any secure sense of herself, Esther Greenwood symbolically tests out a series of possible identities, different selves, through the women she meets; none of them represent her full character, the range of her psyche. In particular, Esther identifies with Doreen, who is described in terms that suggest Marilyn Monroe, and with Betsy, a virginal, wholesome cheerful girl-next-door in the style of Doris Day. A girl in the s could be a virgin or she could be a whore: it was a neo-Victorian era, as evidenced by the crinolines and tiny waists.
Esther Greenwood, a college student from Massachusetts, travels to New York to work on a magazine for a month as a guest editor. She works for Jay Cee, a sympathetic but demanding woman. The sponsors of their trip wine and dine them and shower them with presents. Esther knows she should be having the time of her life, but she feels deadened. The execution of the Rosenbergs worries her, and she can embrace neither the rebellious attitude of her friend Doreen nor the perky conformism of her friend Betsy. Esther and the other girls suffer food poisoning after a fancy banquet. Esther attempts to lose her virginity with a UN interpreter, but he seems uninterested.