The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath follows Esther Greenwood, a college student spending the summer at an internship in New York working at a prestigious magazine with several other young women. During her time in New York, not only does Esther get to experience some time working at the magazine, but she also experiences some events in the city. However, compared to the other women there, she is not as enthusiastic about all their escapades.
After returning home, she falls into a deep depression and, when her attempts on getting help fail, tries to commit suicide and ends up in a mental institution. From there she focuses on getting better, although with the bell jar hanging over her head she doesn’t know if she’s progressing or regressing.
I’ve been wanting to read The Bell Jar for years. A lot of people who I spoke to who had read the book said it was depressing. But, honestly, I didn’t find it that depressing at all. Yes, she tries to kill herself and, yes, you read about all these people in the mental institution, but, really, I feel like it’s more educational than anything because the reader gets a sense of how different people with depression were treated when Sylvia Plath was alive.
While there is no hard plot to the novel, there are different themes, such as women breaking away from the patriarchal society and being independent at a time when women were expected to get married and be house wives. I think this is an important novel that should be read more widely than I feel like it is.