The Bell Jar was one of my most intense reads.
It’s a brilliantly written book adorned with metaphors, allusions, similes, juxtapositions and encompassed in a beautiful poetic style that perpetually draws you in.
Set in the early 1900’s, the book revolves around Esther Greenwood’s one year in the bell jar, slowly suffocating in her own thick air and unable to see any happiness in the world. It follows her through her year battling void depression, catapulting against a wold were Catholicism and marriage is the norm and trying to find herself in an ever-growing labyrinth of sexism and “normality.”
Just like Paulo Coelho’s, “Veronika Decides to Die,” this book also challenges what madness actually is. Is it a socially defined border that separates you from the world of sameness or is it a mental condition that separates you from the world of saneness?
Besides this, The Bell Jar also challenges the narrow Catholic views of marriage, an ideal life for a woman and virginity. At the time of publishing (1960’s), this literary revolt was a milestone in women’s literature.
The book also has mentions of homosexuality in it. The wordings in this sphere are ambiguous, neither accepting nor denying. The brief mentions of homosexuality merely associate with its primordial existence.
What I loved about this book the most was how it raptly captured sadness without ever crying. There is something about most books that makes the pages cry whenever the author talks about something sad – and while the emotional assault is very welcoming for a well-written book – Plath certainly went toward a unique path with her word choice in The Bell Jar. There is no sympathy, no appeal to emotion, just merciless and straightforward sadness that is all-consuming and strikingly bright.
The Bell Jar is definitely a must-read for people seeking historical fiction that diverts from the norm; that challenges society in a feat that was rarely achieved at its time; and that creates a new literary sphere for semi-fictional books.