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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath - Amanda's Book Blog [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath [Aug. 18th, 2006|12:34 pm]
Amanda's Book Blog


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This is a strange, interesting book. It feels very much like a female version of The Catcher of the Rye -- which explains why </a></b></a>girl_undone likes it so much :) It has this real ominous feel to it, this sense of doom. I'm not sure if it's because I already know the basic plot, or because of the little hints that have been dropped. "After I came back" type of stuff.

Esther is already portrayed as a loner, sitting in bed alone as opposed to attending required functions of her internship. She reminds me of me -- striding through life, getting by on sheer grades and convincing herself it's what she wants. Maybe that's why I've started feeling so sad reading this. But I'm definately going to continue!

This book has absorbed me. Usually, I can only relate to characters in really modern books or 19th century books. I usually hate literature produced between 1920-1960.

So far, she's spent a lot of time talking about sex. Being upset that Buddy has slept with someone else, and her wanting to sleep with someone to make them even -- but not in a vindictive way. Her logic is flawed, but I can't pinpoint exactly where. I guess that's the genius of this book :) The review I read said that watching Esther break was very logical -- that you agreed with her. I'm finding this to be totally true!

I guess I'm also absorbed in this because of who I am. When she says she's spent 15 years getting A's and it seems a shame to waste it being a wife and mother, I hear myself -- except insert "teacher" instead. I spent my life chasing grades and now that that part of my life is over, I don't know what to do without it. Her analogy of the fig tree is heartbreaking -- starving to death, stuck in one place, because no fig shined brighter than the rest, and being suited enough to all of them.... it makes it so hard. She has the same awkwardness with people that I do. I never know how to react when people are talking, I always feel like I'm putting on a mask. "Is this the right facial expression? Gods, I hope so!"

I'm sure if I weren't reading it so quickly, I'd probably have a lot more to say about symbolism and the like, as if I were teaching, but I'm just enjoying the story and the heartbreaking prose. Something about this book makes me want to curl up in bed, but not in a bad way. In a cozy, self-protective-shell type of way.

The book is spiraling down. Impending doom. DOOM! And even though I know this was drawn from life, from Plath's own battle with mental illness, a lot of aspects of it are uneblievable. I suppose the difference is setting: in the beginning, Esther is in NYC, having to do jobs. When she comes back to her mother's house, she has nothing to do, nowhere to go, except think more and more. Now she's going to the doctor and contemplating suicide. I understand how none of it seems right to her. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong situation. I must say, though, that as much as the book is spiraling down, it's also winding down. Most books are picking up speed now, pushing towards a climax. I feel as if I've stopped, and no matter how many more pages I read, it will still be the same. I suppose I've fallen into Esther's mindset.

I finished the book awhile ago, but haven't updated because it confused the shit out of me. I realized, after talking to Sarah, that I was taking the book FAR too literally. So, when I get the time, I have to reread it with my eyes to the symbolic. I'm thinking I need to read more of her poetry and maybe her unabridged journals before I pick this book up again.