I find ‘The Bell Jar’ to be a fantastic read. Although Sylvia Plath gets a bad reputation because of her depressing writing and her, well.. suicide, I can’t deny that she was a very talented writer.
You don’t have to be depressed to be able to empathize with Sylvia Plath, although that usually does help. But the truth is, she was a hell of a writer.
When I first read ‘The Bell Jar’ I was a high school senior and did not take as much away from the book as I did the second time I read it. This book has a way of challenging any reader of any age. (Especially if you have had a bout of depression in your life, like the protagonist, Esther, has).
In today’s society we are much more comfortable with the topic of mental illness and we have much more insight into the minds of the “crazy”. It takes someone who has been in a rough situation to be able to put those thoughts into writing and just absolutely hit the nail on the head. If Plath could write about anything at all, it was depression. She has a way of drawing readers in. Plath wrote this book with a very contemporary feel, especially since it can be considered a ‘classic’. She takes you through the life and the mind of the young Esther Greenwood and the impossible struggles that set her mental decline into motion. Trying to fit in with the other interns, as well as dealing with boys and co-workers prove to be almost impossible at times for Esther. And later, when the real depression and suicidal thoughts set in, readers are invited into a twisted world which was created realistically and with honesty by someone who had been in a similar situation.
“So I began to think maybe it was true that when you were married and had children it was like being brainwashed, and afterward you went about as numb as a slave in a totalitarian state.”