Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, 1963 (244 pages)

I knew almost nothing about this book when I picked it up. I thought it was pretty good, but I didn't love it.

The Bell Jar is the story of a young college girl who becomes suicidal. It basically follows her mental descent, her suicide attempt, and her stay at an asylum before becoming "cured." Much of the story is actually autobiographical, which definitely adds an interesting element to the narration.

I occasionally found myself forgetting who some of the characters were (as they'd be mentioned only briefly, then many chapters later would come back into the story with no re-introduction), and there were a few places where the story seemed to jump very abruptly. However, I think this was probably intentional, as it seemed to happen the most when the character was beginning to slip out of sanity.

Although the most obvious element of the book is seeing what it is truly like to experience mental illness, suicidal thoughts, treatment, and a "cure," feminism is definitely a major theme throughout the book. Plath is certainly known as a feminist writer, and it's easy to see how she feels about the role of women in society, the way men treat women, and what it should mean for a woman to be independent.

It was definitely an interesting book, and one worth reading. Knowing that the author committed suicide very shortly after the book was published in London gives the story an even more tragic tone.


Total number of books read in 2009: 26
Total number of pages read in 2009: 9553

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