The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

I think this has been one of the bleakest, yet somehow poignant, look at how quickly one can slip into a severe and debilitating depression. That descent happening throughout the story of a young woman attempting to establish a life that goes against the status quo of era adds even more to the level of despair portrayed.


I initially went into The Bell Jar knowing of Sylvia Plath and her infamous suicide, but not really knowing much about her or her works. Plath's willingness to starkly break down her personality, her illness, her failings, and her defiant opposition toward conventional feminine roles are woven together to show a strength that I wonder if Plath even realized she possessed. In doing so, she was able to completely blow open the heavily stigmatized mental illness for the world to see. She made it readable, but still showed the level of despair and alienation that she felt during the time. The fact that her contrasting views of gender roles and what she wanted from her life versus what was expected from her as a female was a huge factor into her breakdown only served to heighten the sense of defeat. It's easy to see why she became an important figure of the feminist movement.


It's even harder to read this book knowing how Plath's life ended despite hopeful ending of the book. Depression is a beast of an illness. I'm grateful to people such as Plath, who were so willing to open their life experiences for others to see that they are not alone.


“When they asked me what I wanted to be I said I didn’t know.

"Oh, sure you know," the photographer said.
"She wants," said Jay Cee wittily, "to be everything.”