Reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Friday, February 18, 2011

Reading this can be compared to the feeling I get when I'm on a roller coaster. That excitement, that thrill, and the nervousness I get when the car slowly ascends to the top. We get to the peak, and the car stops there for a few seconds. I know what's going to happen, but I don't know when it will. I want to get out, as I ask myself why I even got on the ride in the first place. Then, without any warning whatsoever, the car plummets down down down. I've lost control, and I can't really do anything about it. The only way down is to drop.

Basically there are two parts in The Bell Jar: the good and the bad. The first half of The Bell Jar is as normal as it gets. The second half is where everything gets darker and more twisted. It gets harder to read, mainly because it's so difficult to even begin to imagine being in the main character's shoes. It was also very scary to see how on-point and realistic everything was, despite the fact that I can't directly relate to what the character was going through.

As I read this book, I also started to think a lot about sanity, in general. I kept thinking, how would I react if I was in the main character's shoes? What would I do? Would I know the difference between sane and insane anymore? Would I be able to tell? This novel got me thinking of those things, which of course could be a good thing or a bad thing. Having said that, The Bell Jar is dark and depressing. It can definitely put your mood down, but I also found that it can also be an eye-opener as well. It made me thankful that at least I am not at all close to the main character's state of mind. It also was very humbling, because I realized, that no matter how normal we are -- or we think we are -- we are as vulnerable as everyone else. We are still human. This can be quite a scary thing to realize, but it is reality, and is something everyone eventually learns to work with no matter what.

Now if you're wondering if I liked or disliked The Bell Jar, I have to say I liked it. However, this is one of those books you can not judge based on its literary merit, but on the overall experience and effect it had on the reader instead. So if I have to give it a technical rating, I'd give it 3 stars. But for the experience itself, I have to give it 5.


  1. What a clever review of sorts.

    Did you take this marvelous picture?

  2. The Bell Jar does sounds like a interesting book, something you think about after reading it. :)

  3. It's hard to pinpoint whether or not you "like" a book that's often dark & depressing, isn't it? I like how you separated your perspective on it.

  4. Juju - Unfortunately no I did not take that photo. How I wish I was reading that book where that picture was taken though. And thanks for reading!

    Nina - Yes, I agree.

    Teacher/Learner - Yes, and I have to say it was even harder because this is some sort of those "untouchable" Classic books. You either get it or you don't, but regardless, you have to read it at least once.

  5. Nice review. I have this one sitting in my TBR pile and have been putting it off because I know its depressing.

  6. I'm totally with you on this. The Bell Jar is all about the experience it evokes from it's readers. When I picked it up a year ago I was surprised by how engrossed I was in the story, and then I started to scare myself with the thoughts I was having as I was reading about a girl (who's name I don't remember off the top of my head. oops) who was really losing her mind.

    One of my favorite quotes comes from the bell jar - "The last thing I wanted was infinite security and to be the place an arrow shoots off from. I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket."

    Great review!

  7. I've heard a few things about this book, but I'm not sure if it is the type of book I'd be interested in reading.

    Great review. :) I've never read a review written like this. I like your style.

  8. naida - Yes, after reading this one, I went ahead and made sure the next book I was going to read was a light-hearted one.

    Sarah - That's a great quote by the way. And I agree I was getting scared for the character herself, and I almost felt like I was reading a personal diary or something.

    the Vintage Bookworm - Thank you so much for reading :)

  9. I had a strange experience when I read this book. I didn't know much about it except that it was a classic, picked it up one day andbrought it with me to work. I was a bartender at a country club. That particular day I had not one customer, so I just sat at the bar and read the whole book there. I wouldn't necessarily recommend that for this title!