The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath


I’ve been reading THE BELL JAR (TBJ) by SYLVIA PLATH. It’s been on my to-read list since forever.

For those of you who don’t know, it’s the only novel she has written and is semi-autobiographical in nature.

The first half of the book is quite vague where she just seems to be talking about events of her life that are loosely stitched together with the remnants of her memory. It seems like a broad patchwork that, honestly, makes no sense till the first hundred pages. Thereafter, a lot of her life starts to fall in place in the sense that you realise how the background is necessary in order to understand the roots of her depression. It’s easy to read her poetry and snippets from her novel with the context of her depression lingering aimlessly at the back of your mind, accepting everything the way it is in one single go. But reading TBJ is really giving me a partial perspective of how her despair blossomed into depression.
Being a poet, it is no doubt that her writing is loaded with metaphors which make it all the more pleasurable to read! The ‘fig’ metaphor being the most acclaimed.

Esther, who was always an A grade student getting the best of scholarships that opened doors to abundant opportunities one after the other, is a stupendous example of how unfortunate situations do not guarantee unhappiness and fortunate situations, too, are no assurance for happiness.

I like how she, very subtly, puts forward the dilemma of black and white and the unforgiving grey that exists in the society. How she’s expected to either be a whore or a virgin, a successful and lonely career woman or a boring housewife whose only ambition is to have a baby.

Even though TBJ is primarily seen as her progression into a void of insanity, it’s not ONLY about that. It raises a lot of societal as well as human behaviour related questions. It is a journey of the choices she makes in a world that is as messed up as it is even today in the year 2015. It is almost astonishing to read something that was written more than 50 years ago and is still in perfect sync with today’s world! But then that’s the beauty of literature, I guess. It brings to light the issues and concerns, observations and findings that have been there all along; not forgotten, but simply ignored.


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