“The Bell Jar”- Sylvia Plath

Wow. Every once in a while, a book comes along into your life and makes you go “hmmm.” Every once in a while you are lucky enough to read a book that you can truely relate too in some way shape or form. This summer I’d read romance novels, and silly books on manliness, but I had yet to read a true novel, a true book written in such a way as this. I loved this book. Early on, I made it my tubby time book. After working a 8 hour shift at work, I came home and started myself a nice hot bubble bath. It just so happened that “The Bell Jar,” was the book I grabbed on my way into the bathroom. As I lowered myself into the steamy tub I grabbed this jewel of a book. As I read I came across an exerpt that I love “There must be quiet a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them. Whenever I’m sad I’m going to die, or so nervous I can’t sleep, or in love with somebody I won’t be seeing for a week, I slump down just so far and then I say: “I’ll go take a hot bath.”” At that precise moment, I knew I would love the rest of the book, for indeed I found myself taking a bath for such similar reasons. I then made it a habbit to read this book whenever I took a bath.

Reading this book was very interesting. As I read the book it was weird how much one could relate to it. Although I am not such an accelerated scholar as the main character, she had so much pressure placed upon her. Personally, and based on society standards she was only allowed to be one thing. Her mother was badgering her, her teachers, peers and everyone was just bearing down on her. It really was no more or less than most people, but it was just so interesting to read how it affected her, and to understand how she felt. To understand her qualms with what she was going to do with the rest of her life, her issues with her family, trying to fit in socially, and her internal struggle with being stuck under “the bell jar.”

The first time I had ever heard of Sylvia Plath was in my 11th grade high school English class- we read “The Doll House,” if I remember correctly. She wrote about how she felt like she was stuck in a plastic world, only allowed to do what was socially acceptable, only allowed to be what the world thought she should be- plastic. Plath again makes a reference about being a plastic doll in “The Bell Jar,” her only novel. How true is it, even today, decades after this was written, that our society hasn’t changed? Women are still put in a catagory, expected to act and bend to the world.

Another thing I found interesting, was the characters struggle with her virginity. While the world aroud her was out fooling around, she was still a virgin. This was not such an issue however, until she found out a boy she liked was not. The issue continues to pop up through the story, this internal struggle with the world and what her mama taught her. Again, even though decades separate, the problems have really not changed.

I really must, at this point stop. I fear I will give too much of the book away if I continue on as such. I highly recommend this book. I recommend it especially to teenaged girls. Although it is a somewhat depressing book, and I in no way encourage them to take the same radical steps that are described, it’s nice to know that nothing has changed. Sure the fashions have changed, the look of women has changed, many surface things have changed, but nothing else has. It’s nice to know that sometimes, the best thing in the world truely is, just a hot bath.

bell jar


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