The Bell Jar
by Sylvia Plath
Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.
I’m counting this as my first “adult” book as part of the challenge that my friend Dan Weedin issued. (Remember that crazy post about that?) I’ve wanted to read it for a while now and this was a great excuse to read it. I actually finished it a while ago, as my Goodreads friends are well aware, but I haven’t gotten around to writing the review until now because I’ve been procrastinating it and getting distracted with other fun blogger things.
I feel badly and I apologize. Now…
Oh-my-sweet-baby-goodness! The writing! I loved it! It was beautiful and used a a very complex and intelligent vocabulary but the diction always made sense and added to the story without confusing the reader. Also, it really added to and fit the character, making her personality much more apparent and real to the reader. Long story short Sylvia Plath was a genius and possibly the most amazing writer, ever.
I don’t really have a lot to say about the plot because there wasn’t much of one. The story just followed this lady’s life so it wasn’t the dramatic roller coaster ride that is common in novels, nor did it have the usual formatting/ markers of plot. (Rising action, inciting incident, climax, falling action, ect.) However some how I was never bored. It was a bit languid and as I said it wasn’t a thrilling roller coaster ride and it lacked the typical type of drama, but it didn’t hinder me. I ate it up anyways. The ending felt a bit abrupt and like it ended in a weird place, but at the same time I felt it was very fitting. I think it be hard to find a good place to end a story written like that because human lives don’t flow or end the way books do. I still thought Plath did a good job with it all.
Plath was an artist. Really. I am amazed by her characters. There were so many characters and we didn’t get much time with any of them other than the main girl, Esther, but all of them were just as vivid as Esther. Right away you get a sense of every character’s personality and how Esther sees them. They seem to jump off the page and are some of the most real characters I’ve ever read. Plath utilized Esther and all the supporting characters to really make a statement about how many people touch our lives and how quickly and often they come and go, as well as how they stay with us through the end. Plath said so much about human nature and life itself in the book it was crazy, but it didn’t feel like messages were being shouted at you. You had to actually really think about, analyze and absorb what you were reading to recognize and fully understand what they were.
Esther was a very interesting character. She was strong and independent, yet the whole time she was fighting a loosing battle alone and frequently gave in and showed weakness. She was kind of a walking oxymoron. I enjoyed her dry sense of humor, and her love of irony as well as her realistic approach to life and her way of viewing the world that was sometimes very bitter, but in a very good and realistic way. She was lovable, relateable, complex, and understandable, despite the severity of her situation everyone could easily relate to something about her or the book.
It was glorious. (But definitely for High school and up! It addresses some really tough and morally challenging issues, and has a lot scenes that are inappropriate for younger audiences.) Really go read it and bask in it’s glory. I give it four and a half stars out of five.
To see it on Goodreads click the cover photo at the beginning of this post. To buy it click here!
General Consensus (gif):
P.S. –Dan Weedin, I challenge you to try reading YA books every once in a while.