Moxie Carroll's Reviews > The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
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Aug 07, 10

bookshelves: fiction-but-not, favourites, for-my-inner-writer, mental-health
Read in July, 2010

I know that it's trendy for teenage/young girls to go through a Sylvia Plath phase - emo was not a adjective discovered only in the last 10 years. But beyond the triteness of clinging to all that is dark and depressive and bemoaning the fact that all will never be right with the world, there are few authors more worthy of adoration - misguided or not - than Sylvia Plath.

I think I shied away from reading Ms. Plath for many years mostly because I the associations I made with people who tended to use the excuse of being overwrought and melodramatic just as a means for getting attention. It's not that I doubted her writing was probably good - I just feared I'd find her too soporific or morose for my tastes. How very very wrong I was.

Maybe waiting to read this until I reached this age and situation in life was the best thing I could have (unintentionally!) done. For although I am well aware of how it sounds, how pretentious and hypocritical after what I've said above, this novel spoke to me. Really, really connected with me. I feel like I have been living a parallel life to Sylvia/Esther and so many times her fears and frustrations echoed some of my own these last few years.

Perhaps it's simply because the intense feelings of inferiority, of thinking that everyone else around you is smart and together and understands what they think and what they want - it's universal. We're all walking around with an air of self-confidence that for most of us is 95% faked. On a good day.

But it's also the self-disappointment she and I share - of knowing there are many things you are (or could be) very good at, but being paralyzed with uncertainty over which to chose to pursue at the cost of all the other choices. She was in her early 20s when she recognized that unfortunate situation. I let myself flounder more than ten years longer than she did. The regret over what might have been only gets more bitter with time, as I have discovered.

Strangely for all my prating on about how I connected with her depression and breakdown and floundering, it's not entirely a negative story. It ends on a up note, even if it can't help but be blighted by the knowledge of how her life ended up. I have never been much of a poetry fan, but I know I'll be going through her other works now. She's helped me dig up some of the motivation for me to start writing again, and perhaps that's the greatest gift this book has given me.

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Quotes Moxie Liked

Sylvia Plath
“I would catch sight of some flawless man off in the distance, but as soon as he moved closer I immediately saw he wouldn’t do at all.”
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar


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