The Bell Jar
January 27, 2015
Bell jar a cylindrical glass vessel with a rounded top and an open base, used to protect and display fragile objects or to establish a vacuum or a controlled atmosphere in scientific experiments. After reading the novel I looked up the title of the book because I was unsure of what a bell jar actually was and the definition made a lot of sense to me. Sylvia Plath had dealt with depression for most of her life and I think for her, writing this book helped her to reflect on herself and her life so that she was able to move on. The main theme of this book is that in order to stay sane in this world, you must not let fears, pressures and the worries of everyday life control your actions and decisions or else you will not be able to function and you will question your own identity like Esther. I think that these pressures that Esther faced in her life are what set her over the edge and made her think that she was alone, made her think that something was wrong with her because she didn’t feel or think like everyone else.
Sylvia Plath expresses a lot of angst in this book. The main idea that she was trying to express to the reader, was to make you understand how the worries, burdens, and pressures of being a young, mature adult are enough to put someone like Esther into a depressive cycle so deep that it gives the illusion to the reader that she is insane and not in touch with reality. I think that just because it was obvious that she was depressed doesn't mean that she was insane although people began to believe she was, even herself. With all the thoughts rushing through her head, I think it made her seem crazy because she didn't know how to handle herself and what
she felt, making her seem insane. Plath did a really good job of portraying how she felt in that moment and throughout the novel, this theme was evident throughout and in one part Esther was talking about how she couldn’t sleep, eat or even write. I think that Plath did a very good job of making her Esther seem depressed to the point of “insanity.”
At the beginning of the book, Esther was attending an all women's internship in New
York and feels like she does not belong. She befriends her roommate, a girl named Doreen who she thinks is much prettier and more popular than herself, even though it seemed like she was blending right in with the other girls. It was obvious that she was tearing herself apart on the inside; comparing her looks and intelligence to the other girls. Being a teenage girl myself, I totally understand what its like to compare yourself to other people who you think are “better” than you in some way. I’ve been there; it sucks, but I think when Plath wrote this book she realized how badly she actually beat herself up about it and disguised it well enough to make the reader think about what was really going on and why she did the things she did. Sylvia Plath was introducing to the reader the idea that many girls, even though they seem happy, really are not.
She shows how such little things built up in her head and drove her to irrational behavior for example, her trying to kill herself numerous times. She tries to hang herself at her moms house, tries to end her life overdosing on some pills in the basement. After her mother finds her she wakes up in an institution. If it weren't for her doing this, no one would have ever known how sad she was inside.
She does not just use the other girls as a stressor in Esther’s life though, even though it was something that she had suppressed. Esther is still very lost after her father’s death. The reader can figure this out because of how many times the author brings up her father’s death. Her
father’s death is brought up in the beginning of the book when Esther is comparing herself to
Doreen and thinking about how perfect and happy Doreen is, and how she, Esther, has not been truly happy since she was 9…