Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Musings: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar

If it were published today, I imagine The Bell Jar would almost certainly be a YA book. The protagonist is nineteen and it is a very self-examing first person narrative. Also, a little bit disturbingly once you know the story, I identified very well with Ester, the main character. Eater starts out the book at an intern at a New York magazine, but after her next plans to take a writing course fall through, she ends up living at home in a Boston suburb with her mother. It's so normal, and her feelings of uncertainty are so familiar that her ensuing emotional breakdown almost seemed too... unreal at first. 

Like, I've experienced similar things, eerily so, and never tried to kill myself. Shouldn't her experience be bigger? More dramatic? But I think Plath knew exactly what she was doing. Someone with depression exists in the same way as everyone else, but these feelings affect them differently, and the spiral downward happens very quickly. 

I'm interested in abnormal psychology, and this book gives a fascinating insight into depression as well as the method used to treat it in the fifties. The juxtaposition of Ester to the other women in the facility she ends up in also goes to show how "ordinary" people end up with depression and suicidal tendencies. 

It really hit home with me, this book, and I recommend it to everyone.