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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

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message 1: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Cotham This book is absolutely insane. I'm not trying to say that it wasn't a beautifully crafted book, but it was absolutely insane. In fact, the entire background of this story is crazy. This book was written by Sylvia Plath, a poet who struggled with depression and had repeatedly tried to commit suicide. She succeeded on February 11th, 1963, when she was found with her head inside her oven, dead from carbon monoxide poisoning. Fun right? I tell you that background information because it heavily influenced the themes and plot of this story. The Bell Jar doesn't beat around the bush; there is literally a scene where Esther, the main character, describes how she tried to hang herself. This book is blunt and straight to the point about an issue that, even in 1963, when this book was published, is a taboo topic to be so open about. This book was an excellent read, and although it might seem depressing, it does make you look at mental health under a different light.


message 2: by L.A. (new) - added it

L.A. Randomfox I agree. If you think it's taboo now, imagine how it was received when it was published in the sixties! (One reviewer did call it a 'light little read' which made me laugh because I doubt they read the whole thing...) Have you read any of Plath's poetry? It ties in really well to the context of the novel and gives you more of a picture of what Plath (Esther) was going through.

The novel is autobiographical: remember the scene where Esther decides to choose a pen name and deliberately chooses another 6-letter name? Sylvia is also a 6-letter name. Esther is Sylvia and The Bell Jar is more or less her exact life story. It's a sad story but it is very well-written and eye-opening.


MarilynW I knew all of Sylvia's history and although this subject is almost too heavy for me to read, I read this as a buddy read and the book meant so much to me since I knew this was Sylvia telling her story up to the date the book was written. She didn't know but I did know she would eventually succeed is killing herself in a very horrible way (with two kids in the room with her at the time...it's so, so horribly tragic).

So I read this book knowing what Sylvia was saying was real, every feeling she wrote about was real, the book touched me so much. There was no way I could criticize her writing...she meant every word and those words were reality for her.


Lindsey LaChute It was brutal but also validating. You see the steps that lead from functional, unremarkable person to completely insane. It makes mental illness more real and more relatable.


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