Friday, May 9, 2014

Recap: The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

Literary critic, I am not, but I will do my best synopsis after completing Sylvia Plath's classic, The Bell Jar, this morning.

I found it enjoyable, relatable and her mastery of descriptive, yet quickly paced writing impressive.  I hesitated that reading a book about a suicidal, institutionalized girl might be too depressing, but Plath managed to keep Esther's character interesting and the storyline moved along.   As the reader, I could feel Esther's character plummet. Plath's genius made it easy to see into the mind of a girl on the descent. Yet, I wouldn't describe the novel as sad - instead, it was insightful and descriptive - objectively capturing a snapshot of what the mind of a neurotic, troubled, yet brilliant, post adolescent girl might look like.

A Bell Jar is a scientific instrument used to create a vacuum in a laboratory.   Esther brilliantly describes herself as "in the bell jar" - a vacuum of her own mind.  It is inescapable.  Her thoughts circulate incessantly - feelings of inadequacy, pessimism, self doubt - suffocate her.   But Plath goes on to question whether we are all in Bell Jars, are we all in vacuums of our own existence?   Not just the depressed, but the privileged, the poor, can any of us see beyond the fabric of experience that has been woven to make us who we are.

It was an enjoyable and important read.  I certainly see why it's been deemed a literary classic.