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The Bell Jar
The Bell Jar
Author: Sylvia Plath
ISBN: 1691
Edition: Unabridged

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Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette
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Top Member Book Reviews

Leigh avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 378 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Engagingly written book that explores the mental break-down of a young woman. This is semi-autobiographical, as Plath and her main character have some strong similarities. In my opinion, I think this describes quite well the fusion of mania and depression in a bi-polar person. Not the up-up-up mania, but the irritable and angry mania - a perfect "mixed" state. The title is an analogy to the isolation and separation the main character feels - everyone can see what's in a bell jar, but no one can hear what's going on inside.
reviewed The Bell Jar on
Helpful Score: 6
I can easily see why this is a classic.. what I cannot understand is why it took me so long to read it! And I mean, why I did not read it earlier on in my life, because I finished it in a day.
I saw myself in Esther's downward spiral so vividly, it was frightening! The characters were all so well written, but not so much so that they took away from the main story.. from the all consuming fear of being a nobody.. becoming nothing. Esther's fears consume the reader much as they consumed herself.

I was so engrossed in this book, that the night I finished the read, I dreamed of shock therapy.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This was a fascinating and beautifully written portrayal of a young woman's nervous breakdown. Based on Plath's own experiences, the story takes you into the thought distortions of someone who is suffering from depression and all the other factors making up a nervous collapse. I particularly enjoyed Plath's use of language. Excellent reading.
iloveyouhecried avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 38 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This book is a real classic. The way Plath writes is beautiful and thought provoking. I would imagine that almost everyone can see themselves in the character at one point or another in this book. A must read.
apachesun avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on
Helpful Score: 1
One of the must reads about the experience of depression in this young woman's breakdown. A classic. Sylvia Plath is one of my absolute favorite authors.
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katlupe avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 104 more book reviews
The heartbreaking story of a talented young woman who descends into madness.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 2 more book reviews
Interesting, quick read.
DesertShaman avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 203 more book reviews
My first Sylvia Plath read. Interesting description of a turn with mental illness. Really showed some of the angst associated with being a young adult in the 50s.
bookgoddessme avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 106 more book reviews
This book was a fairly quick read. An attempt for me to read a "classic". I want to by no means dismiss Plath's powerful life story on any level, but this book did not delight me as I hoped it would. I found it strange, and slow, and a little bit boring even.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 3 more book reviews
An essential read for all young feminists. I sent it to my 18-year-old great-grandaughter and would recommend it to all my "greats" (27) male and female.
sarahinme avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 58 more book reviews
Absolutely one of my favorite books. It is heavy and a bit crazy but a fantastic read. Sylvia Plath is one of the most fascinating writers, and if you have never read a Plath novel this is a wonderful starter!
perryfran avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 1182 more book reviews
I went into this book not knowing a whole lot about Sylvia Plath. I knew that she was a poet and had written The Bell Jar, her only novel and that she committed suicide at age 30. The Bell Jar is really a hard hitting novel with its depictions of mental illness. It was reminiscent of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest but to me was more poignant in that it was really a semi-biographical account of Plath's younger life. The protagonist's name in the novel is Esther and the novel recounts her life as a young guest editor of a teen magazine and her steady mental breakdown. Plath describes these bouts of mental illness as being inside a bell jar where the air is stifling and there is no way out. After an attempted suicide, Esther is put into an asylum with the crude care of 1950's psychiatry including shock treatments and insulin therapy. She is eventually able to leave but she never knows when the "bell jar" will descend on her life again.

Plath's writing was very descriptive and not all of it was depressing. There is humor spread throughout the novel and some have compared this to a female version of Catcher in the Rye. But this really gave an eye-opening account of mental illness and depression and overall I would recommend it highly.
mosdefjess avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 7 more book reviews
I absolutely understand why this book is considered a classic. Sylvia Plath wrote this in a way that really brings you into her head, right alongside her every thought.
leogrrrlll avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 6 more book reviews
Sylvia Plath is a master of leading one down the path of the descent into madness and despair. The voice of the character draws the reader in, in a hypnotic, can't-put-this-down, kind of way.
easttexmerry avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 40 more book reviews
A very dark, gloomy book. Maybe to be expected as the author ended up committing suicide. I didn't really find much of interest to this book.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 6 more book reviews
About a young woman on her own in NYC as a junior editor and her struggles with her phychological demons. Very well written and interesting.

Book Wiki

Common Title
Original Publication Date (YYYY-MM-DD)
Esther Greenwood (Primary Character)