The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: Book Review


Synopsis: Sylvia Plath’s 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 Esther’s 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. 

Date Published: first published 1963

No. of Pages: 244 pages

Publisher: Harper & Row Publishers Inc

Date Read: February 2016

Source: I Bought it


The word depressing doesn’t even begin to cover it. 

This book sucked out the joy in me, I’m not saying this in a bad way, but man, after reading this I definitely needed a hug or a cup of tea to soothe me. I never would have picked up perfect time to read this. I reckon if I read this when I was younger I wouldn’t be able to grasp it and relate to it completely. It is always true that the perfect book will find you. This book is really beautifully written, I now fully understand how many readers loved Sylvia Plath. (I have only read Ariel also by her, so I never really understood the depth of Sylvia Plath’s magnificent writing style, now I do.)

The Bell Jar is a very compelling and powerful read, it is not a shocker to learn that it is on the Top Books to Read Before You Die list. Every reader should read it at least once in their lives. What a fulfillment to have read it. This book still proves to be relevant up to this day. I loved how book encompasses time. Esther never wanted to settle for something that the society dictated a woman to be, she went out of the box and the stereotyping. I loved how the message it was trying to send across, was successfully perceived by the reader.

Also, the book portrayed the situation of a person spiraling down to the pit of depression. It was heartbreaking, if you ask me. How Esther had all her future laid out for her but was robbed off of it before her very eyes. I specifically loved the narration of the whole story, there are moments that I have to reread some paragraphs because I wouldn’t want to misinterpret it, but this book was so open to a lot of interpretations, it keeps its reader involved. I loved how Esther’s point of view felt so real, like I feel Esther crawling under my very skin. It seems to me that not everything is what meets the eye, there was always something deeper, something incomprehensible and something that makes the reader wonder. It is surely a book that will stay with you for a long time. This book was sincere and raw as any other great book should be.

I have heard that The Bell Jar was a semi-autobiography, and I can understand the similarity of Sylvia Plath’s life to that of Esther Greenwood. It has made me see things in a bigger perspective, in a clearer point of view. Just a side story here:  I have a friend who had depression, I so wanted to help her out of it but back then I never knew a lot about depression, I guess you can never fully understand it unless you have it, I must say after reading this book it gave me an idea what my friend felt during those dark times. Im glad she’s okay now, and I am glad too that I could at least understand what she had gone through. I discovered that books with this topic appeal to me so much, as I wanted to understand, I wanted to be in their shoes even vicariously through books. I could definitely recommend reading The Bell Jar but be ready to feel immense sadness, because it will take a little while to snap out of it.

Rating: rating_4stars

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.” 
― Sylvia PlathThe Bell Jar