What Is The Bell Jar?

The Bell Jar is a psychological novel by Sylvia Plath in the genre of Coming-of-age fiction. The author used her biography as a source for the plot. Unfortunately, she committed suicide just a month after the publication, and the book was banned for some time. Nevertheless, it offers a true-to-life description of the development of a mental illness.

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Sylvia Plath was a poet, and The Bell Jar was her only novel. Like her protagonist, she was a talented and successful young woman who could not fit in the gender roles prescribed by society. The author wrote a detailed and rational report of her experiences during a mental breakdown as she underwent electric shock treatment. Thus, The Bell Jar is partly an autobiography.  

The frankness of the narration shocks the reader. Esther Greenwood shares her thoughts about suicide methods. Many book pages are dedicated to her inner speech, where she ponders how she could end her life. Sometimes Esther indirectly shares her concerns with other people. For instance, she told Doreen that she could not pack her clothes for days. On a beach walk, the protagonist asked a friend how he would prefer to commit suicide. An attentive and caring friend would have noticed that she needed medical help, but she did not have one. Even once doctors established her developing madness, her mother still perceived it as bad behavior.  

The loneliness in depression and lack of understanding from friends and relatives is one of the central themes in the book. It teaches us to pay more attention to psychical health and its alerting symptoms because the result can be deplorable. 

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