The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (read August 30, 2015)
Commonly seen on ‘must-read’ lists, especially for women, I decided this would be a great book to read right before going back to school and beginning my junior year. It is accurately known as a feminist work, challenging some archaic and modern expectations, beliefs, and stereotypes concerning women. Not only did these specific points resonate with me, but many passages were incredibly easy with which to relate. These circumstances and opinions are very universal, and cross gender lines, and many other cultural divisions.
I have not experienced depression to this magnitude, nor anything close. Reading this book gave me a deeper insight to those feelings, and made me empathize with some of my peers’ struggles a little better. However, there are many thoughts I think constantly, and things I have felt that I never knew how to express. Plath, on the other hand, seems to understand these situations, eloquently putting them in words in way that I never could.
From Esther’s wallflower presence, watching others fall in love, to her distance with her mother, I related to the narrator to an unbelievable extent. While I have never really aspired to become a writer reluctant, I understand her ambition and dreams, only to feel static and immobile, frustrated, and hopeless, especially upon reaching adulthood and independence. Her curiosity in everything, wanting to learn as much as she can about as much as she can, her ability to think of good comebacks and witty responses after the conversation, her desire to do all these great things while feeling as if she has to choose one to achieve… Esther may have been based on a prophetic look into my life, for all I know.
All of this content and character traits are great, but they are moved through the story in such a wonderfully written manner which only enhances them. I believe it is very hard to accurately convey the inner workings of your mind to people who, to put it simply, do not and cannot truly understand. There are some experiences that you will never really get until you experience them. However, Plath does a great job of authentically portraying her thoughts and critiques and worries to get readers to understand, to relate to her words and stories. You can see some of my favorite lines here.
Everyone, and I mean, everyone, should read this book. At this point in time, it is one of my favorite books, and that’s beating out some really great contenders. It’s a dark one, but shadows are a beautiful thing.
Rating: 5 out of 5