Category Archives: The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Title:  The Bell Jar
Author:  Sylvia Plath
Length:  288 pages

It’s hard to believe that I have yet to dedicate a post to The Bell Jar, but I just looked back and confirmed it.  What’s wrong with me?  This is my all-time favorite novel.  The only novel that I make it a point to revisit at least once a year.  Every time that I read it, I keep a pencil or highlighter in hand, because I always find some new passage that I absolutely need to make a note of.  Though, there are plenty of passages that are so powerful, that they stuck out from the beginning.  Such as from this past Quotable Monday post:

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story.

From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked.  One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Antila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above thee figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out.

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose.  I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

The Bell Jar sucks the reader into Esther’s downward spiral.  Plath makes mental illness completely accessible in the pages of this novel – you don’t, for a second, doubt what the character is going through.  At times, perhaps even a lot of the time, you see some of your own fears, paranoia, or thoughts reflected in what Esther is experiencing.

Additionally, the pages are full of memorable scenes, absurd characters, passages that will make you laugh, and some that will make you shiver.  For all of these reasons, and more, The Bell Jar is considered an American Classic.  And, for me, it will always be a personal favorite.

There is even talk that there will be a re-make of the film.  The talk has been going on for years now, but according to IMDB’s page, it’s slated for a 2012 release and starring Julia Stiles and, possibly, Rose McGowan.  All I can say is that it can’t POSSIBLY be any worse than the version that came out in the 1970s.  “YIKES!” is the only word to describe that theatrical failure.

Purchase The Bell Jar on Amazon.

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