In high school, we all read books that we either love or hate. Then there are books that we don’t really read, we just pretend to read them and copy other people’s work. “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath is required reading for a lot of English classes in high school, and even college. I hadn’t read it in many years, so I decided to sit down and check out what the hype was about. This book from the 1960s is an opus of depression, sex, love, and psychology. It’s auto-biographical, with fiction sewn in, and Plath didn’t publish it until close to the end of her life. She committed suicide. If you read this book, and parallel it to her life, you may realize that it’s very much similar, and clear that she had mental problems.
Woa! Sorry to stop your flow of reading. I wanted to interject and say that this is an older review. I know, old content isn’t always great. However, if you’re reading this, just know that this is a review that I wrote after reading the book in 2018. I’m working on 2019’s reviews, and will post them as I can, but this is from my archives. Sorry to break up the flow again, just continue reading, and please try the fish! I mean, buy the book.
Plath paints you a picture that is feminine, shaky at times, and alluring. She taps on the windows of your heart, and speaks in your ear her story. It grips you at times, it makes you recognize that she is an “every woman” at times. She speaks to you in such a unique voice, in the first person, you begin to play her story as a movie in your mind. Those girls that you know, the ladies that you love, they all become caricatures in the way that you focus on how Plath tells you her tale. For me, I saw my loves, Erin, Katie, Codie, Natalie, and others. I saw them through the windows of “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath, which is an interesting reaction to the reading, no doubt.
The whole point of “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath has you looking through the lens of depression, and how it was treated in the past. Today, depression is treated with pharmaceuticals, therapy, or natural solutions. In the past, if you had money and were clinically depressed, you could end up in a hospital. The character in this book ends up in a psych ward, and hospitalized for various reasons. Her journey through college is disrupted, her love affairs don’t end in sex, until one does, and she bleeds out. There’s focus paid to the mental elements of depression, and reactions to trying to kill oneself, and so much more. Plath sets you up for a journey that is swift, easy to digest, but hard to forget. I loved it.
It’s hard to go back to the classics and find your mind’s eye in the same spirit that it once had. I’m decades removed from high school, and yet “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath had me thinking of the past. My heart raced at times, I wanted to save the character, I wanted to meet her and hug her. Then the story ends. It comes to a close, and you wonder whatever happened, but here’s the thing.
“The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath gets a 5 out of 5 from me. I loved it. I’ll read it again in a few years, most likely. I think it is a beautifully written glimpse to the past, and in some ways, the present. I didn’t really like it as a teenager, but as a grown man, I loved this book. It’s easy to read, it’s not too long, and it fascinates me as much as some of my past and current loves.