Books and Movies Reviews

The Bell Jar

I chose the The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath at the insistence of my sister because she claims I do not read enough female authors. However, while I found the novel interesting, it was probably the most depressing piece of literature I have ever read. The bouts of madness and repeated attempts at suicide all add to the overall theme of the book, which seems to be depression. Despite the lack of happiness, I somewhat enjoyed reading the novel because of its atypical story.
This young woman, Esther Greenwood, is such a gifted and talented person yet she struggles to express herself in society with her dark, brooding personality. Rather than enjoy her life and her God-given talent to write, Esther remains preoccupied with other things, namely the execution of the Rosenbergs, which she cannot get over. Despite her seemingly inability to interact in society, especially with boys, from the start of the novel Esther embarks on a mission to lose her virginity before marriage. She wants to rebel against convention, which tells her she should not have sex prior to marriage. Part of this rebelliousness I think is a result of her relationship with her boyfriend, Buddy Willard. Buddy appears to be the ideal guy, but as Esther gets to know him she sees his flaws and when he admits, with no regret, to having had sex with a waitress while he and Esther were dating, she realizes she cannot marry him.
Then, as a combination of things collapse, including her break-up with Buddy and her indecision in whether to become the typical domestic housewife or follow her ambitions into college, Esther attempts several suicides. As a result, she wakes up in the hospital after intentionally overdosing on sleeping pills. She is sent to a mental institution where she begins to speak a little, and seems to be getting back on track when one of her friends at the institution suddenly hangs herself.
By the end of the novel, Ester is almost ready to leave the hospital…

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