Eli's Reviews > The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
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Jun 05, 2012

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Read in May, 2012

The book I read was The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. It was about a girl named Esther from Boston. She gets a summer internship at a magazine in New York City. Esther wasn't as excited with the city as she thought she would be, and she gets depressed very easily. She eventually returns to Boston in hopes that she would be given a special academic opportunity that would allow her to write a novel. When she gets home, her mom immediately tells her that she did not get the academic opportunity, which makes Esther very depressed. She begins to visit a psychiatrist who prescribes her electroshock treatment, which does not go over well. She gets horrible insomnia, and attempts to kill herself multiple times, until she almost succeeds by overdosing on insomnia pills. This lands her in a mental hospital, where she meets Dr. Nolan, her new psychiatrist. Esther trusts Dr. Nolan more than her last doctor, so she is less reluctant when Nolan prescribes her more electroshock therapy. This time, the treatment helps, potentially making Esther feel sane again.
I thought this was a very well written book. I think a person would have to be familiar with Plath's writing style to appreciate it, because it can get a little boring. It's not so much how the book is written, but the information she is writing about. She is a very descriptive writer, especially when it comes to expressing emotion. I think thats the best thing about her writing. She is able to put into words what most people don't even know they feel, the darkest parts of the human psyche. It helps that the book was semi-autobiographical, because Plath was able to really connect with her characters- she knew them. This book isn't for everyone, especially if they aren't used to reading about depressing topics like suicide, mental illness, etc. I enjoyed it, but I feel like most teenagers wouldn't appreciate it as much.
I would give this book a 3 out of 5. Sylvia Plath is an amazing writer, but I don't think her novel compares to her poetry or her journals. This isn't a bad book at all, I just think she shines when she keeps her writing short and to the point. It gets a little boring. Writing aside, the book has a good story that deals with depressing things, which appeals to me personally. So I would say this is a good book, but not anything life-changing.
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