The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar

Large Print - 2003
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Baker & Taylor
In the harrowing acclaimed novel by the celebrated poet, Esther Greenwood, a rising editor during the early 1950s, suffers a nervous breakdown, falling deeply into depression and madness. (General Fiction)

HARPERCOLL
The Bell Jar chronicles the breakdown of the brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful Esther Greenwood, a woman slowly going under -- maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther's demise with such intensity that the character's insanity becomes completely real, even rational -- as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.

Baker
& Taylor

Esther Greenwood, a talented and successful writer, finally succumbs to madness when the world around her begins to falter.

Publisher: New York : HarperLargePrint, 2003
Edition: 1st Harper large print ed
ISBN: 9780060573096
0060573090
Characteristics: xx, 391 p. (large print) ; 23 cm

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ArapahoeTina Nov 06, 2019

Ah, Sylvia. Her prose is lovely and, of course, poetic. She brings her characteristic confessional style to this, her only novel.

m
mrietkerk
Oct 08, 2019

Love this title! Such a relatable coming-of-age story.

r
rlbeekman
Jun 08, 2019

I was expecting a kind of raw confessional outpouring, but this book was more artful in its narration and reveals Plath as a very talented observer and prose writer. Even her refusal to allow Esther Greenwood to appear "nice" in any way is a deliberate artistic choice. But I wondered what was the point at the end. The story didn't seem to have any shape other than a record of a mental health breakdown and (ambiguous) recovery.

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
May 18, 2019

A story of the life of a young becoming writer in New York. Bound to become the next successful writer. But "nobody looks like what they are on the inside" perfectly describes Esther Greenwood, there is more she doesn’t show.
I wouldn’t pick up this book were it not for my high school English assignment. I felt sadness, it describes depressed and suicidal thoughts but it is not gory, it goes into detail enough for the reader to get a feeling. Part of my family has a background of varying mental illnesses. I have an idea of what it feels like and the fact that Plath herself committed suicide made this book more significant. Plath did not plan for her book to be published in America, she feared people would recognize the characters, she kept some of their real names. A biography and a novel at the same time. She must have had similar feelings and experiences.
This book is a great view of someone who has mental illnesses. It’s short, easy language, and in some ways I found it relatable. It isn’t overwhelming. Also, the Bell Jar is a metaphor for how Esther feels. She feels stuck in her own head unable to escape thoughts of self doubt and dejection - trapped.
The Bell Jar is a classic. Unique in its time, it explores how society views a woman, mental illness and treatment. Rating: 4/5
@TreeHugger of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

The Bell Jar is a novel by the famous poet, Sylvia Plath, but originally published under the pseudonym "Victoria Lucas" in 1963. The story is based on Plath’s personal experiences following the character Esther Greenwood who is an aspiring writer, who is uncertain in her place in the world. Esther’s mental health slowly deteriorates over the course of the book leaving her neurotic and suicidal, until one day her mental plague is unbearable and she makes an almost tragic action leaving her hospitalized. I would recommend this book because Plath is an extremely intelligent writer and tells her story beautifully.
@GoosReviews of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

3
322824mb
Apr 05, 2018

maybe I'm politicizing her story too much but it seems to me, seeing this as not only about her personal struggle with sanity/survival but also with the crippling effect of the socially restrictions women lived/live under may have been her point.

r
re_discover
Oct 24, 2017

I read The Bell Jar as part of my 2017 Reading Challenge, in the category of a book written by an author using a pseudonym. There is no real story. I feel like I do not know anything about Ester, who is the main character.

m
montse93
Aug 28, 2017

interesting and engaging read!

v
vicky84027
Apr 15, 2017

Eight months lapsed from the moment that I picked up this book until I finished its last line. I'm not going to lie – early portions of this novel are not easy to process with its painstakingly redundant and seemingly irrelevant observations that compromise the pace of the story, diluting its dramatic intensity. However, as soon as one passes the wall-hitting phase, everything comes to life and a vivid reality is set into motion by the shear force of Plath's ingenious manipulation of the English language.

As the protagonist, Esther Greenwood, slowly descends into madness, she ascends spiritually, for madness has afforded her detachment and clairvoyance to look at the world from a third-person perspective. This novel offers a refreshing and poignant view on mental struggles and the inherent absurdity of conformity vs. choice.

h
hailzz
Oct 31, 2016

A novel full of brilliance, lesson, and ambition.
I loved it. The book is contained of deep and rather sad meanings. It is a book of pure depression.
A story of hard work and determination which the character accomplishes as she comes from nothing and makes success of that... only to find that in particular that success cannot motivate or fulfill a deep emptiness that lies in her. That emptiness which her depression constantly suffocates her and how in that era the contrast between dealing with mental illness between now is of great deal of change. An unsettling, haunting yet intriguing novel. Depression in this novel is metaphorically related as a Bell Jar covering Esther, alienating her from reality and distorting her perception of life. She also says "stewing in my own sour air" under the jar meaning she is trapped in her depressive thoughts. Definitely a must read novel.

ArapahoeAndrew Aug 29, 2016

Plath weaves a haunting descent and experience with depression into a beautifully descriptive setting and plot.

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Quotes

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a
ambdizzle
Aug 23, 2019

“I don’t see what women see in other women,” I’d told Dr. Nolan in my interview that noon. “What does a woman see in a woman that she can’t see in a man?” Dr. Nolan pauses. Then she said, “Tenderness.” That shut me up.

a
ambdizzle
Aug 23, 2019

The floor seemed wonderfully solid. It was comforting to know I had fallen and could fall no further.

Laura_X Aug 03, 2018

I woke to the sound of rain.

s
ssk22
Jul 06, 2016

“If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.”

SPL_STARR Jun 15, 2015

"It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York."

Laura_X May 01, 2015

So I began to think maybe it was true that when you were married and had children it was like being brainwashed, and afterward you went about as numb as a slave in a totalitarian state.

a
AngelaLib
Jun 17, 2011

"There must be quite a few things a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them."

a
AngelaLib
Jun 17, 2011

"There must be quite a few things a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them."

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EuSei Aug 16, 2012

EuSei thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

EuSei Aug 16, 2012

EuSei thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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RICHARD LIU
Mar 25, 2012

RICHARD LIU thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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ssk22
Jul 06, 2016

Sylvia Plath's shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity.

m
Makemoney
Jul 06, 2016

Esther Greenwood, a college student from Massachusetts, travels to New York to work on a magazine for a month as a guest editor. Esther returns to the Boston suburbs and discovers that she has not been accepted to a writing class she had planned to take. She will spend the summer with her mother instead. Esther awakens to find herself in the hospital. She has survived her suicide attempt with no permanent physical injuries. Once her body heals, she is sent to the psychological ward in the city hospital, where she is uncooperative, paranoid, and determined to end her life.

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