Monday, March 10, 2014

Books: The Bell Jar

For over a month now I have wanted to want to read, but I just couldn’t.  I don’t know why I got into a “book funk” but I did.  In the past two month I started three books, and none of them interested me at that time.  For someone who was always reading, that’s a little odd.  But, I decided to try again, and I read a whole book in two days.  (Yay me!)  That book was The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.  If you don’t know what The Bell Jar is about then let me try to tell you quickly. 
The Bell Jar is about a woman named Ester, who is 19 years old, and a college student.  The book starts out with her at a summer job working for a magazine.  She is surrounded by other girls, and her roommate, Doreen, is out going and very ‘plays by her own rules’ kind of girl whereas Ester is more reserved.  Ester always feels different than the other girls.  After her magazine job ends, she has a summer school class set up, but she finds out that she was not accepted into the program and she has to live with her mother for the rest of summer, which is very unsettling to her.  Ester then decides that she is going to write a novel, learn short hand, and start on her senior thesis, but she gets overwhelmed.  Not because there is too much work for her, but because she stops sleeping, eating, showering, and even being able to read and write.  Her mind betrays her. 
Her mother then takes her to a doctor, Dr. Gordon, who gives her sleeping pills and shock treatment.  Ester had a bad reaction to the shock treatment, and a little later, she takes a new bottle of sleeping pills, goes into the crawl space and takes them.  She wakes up in the hospital, and when she recovers from the overdose, she is sent to the state institution.  Unfortunately, Ester is very uncooperative, and she still constantly has the thought of suicide.  Eventually she does get to go to a better hospital, because of a woman, Philomena Guinea, who is basically her sponsor, pays for her time there.  (This woman is also writing a book about her case.)  Ester then begins to trust her doctor, Dr. Nolan, and things start to look up a bit.   On a cocktail of therapy, insulin, and proper shock treatment, Ester improves so much she is granted special treatments.  (Leaving the hospital to shop, see a movie, etc.) 
Eventually, Ester’s world does get lighter, and she eventually is in talks of being able to leave to go back to school.  She believes that she is alright, but knows that at any time her world could crash again. 
If you know anything about Sylvia Plath then you would know that she was depressed for most of her adult life.  She tried to commit suicide a few different times, including overdosing on medication, like Ester, and even though The Bell Jar is a work of fiction, there is no doubt that there are a few events that closely resemble Sylvia’s life.  

If you have ever wondered about this book, I would 100% suggest it to you.  But be warned some find it disturbing.  I didn’t, but one of my favorite books is about writing to serial killers, so I might have a small tolerance.  If you do decided to read it, tell me about it! 

Now I’m off to read A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. 


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