The Bell Jar by Sylvia PlathSylvia Plaths shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity.
Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esthers breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.
The Bell Jar
It begins in New York with an ominous lightness, grows darker as it moves to Massachusetts, then slips slowly into madness. Esther Greenwood, one of a dozen girls in and on the town for a month as guest editors of a teen-age fashion magazine, is the product of a German immigrant family and a New England suburb. Her imagination is at war with the small-town tenets of New England and the big-time sham of New York. She finds it impossible to be one of the army of college girls whose education is a forced stop on the short march to marriage. The crises of identity, sexuality, and survival are grim, and often funny. Wit, irony, and intelligence as well as an inexplicable, withdrawn sadness separate Esther from her companions. Being an involuntary truth-seeker, she uses irony as a weapon of judgment, and she is its chief victim.
The Bell Jar is the story of year-old Esther Greenwood, the breakdown she experiences, and the beginnings of her recovery. She and eleven other college students, also contest winners, are set up in the Amazon Hotel and juggle work with the scheduled events the magazine has created for them. Esther's primary friend during this month is Doreen, a glamorous platinum-blond student who chain-smokes, dresses provocatively, and does not take her work seriously. The reader learns early on about the struggles in Esther's life. Her father died when she was nine; while Esther wants to be a poet, her mother wants her to learn shorthand so that she will have a vocation to fall back on. She has been dating Buddy Willard, a Yale medical student who bores her and minimizes those things she holds dear: poetry, literature, creation. Buddy has asked her to marry him, but she told him she never plans to marry.
She moves at her own pace, dragging herself at the heels of the rushing time and existing in that void where her consciousness treads a gravelly path only to arrive at the destination to find that everyone else had already moved on.
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The Bell Jar opens in the summer of Esther Greenwood is a bright nineteen-year-old working as an editorial intern at a popular women's magazine in New York City., Originally published under the pseudonym "Victoria Lucas" in , the novel is semi-autobiographical, with the names of places and people changed.
Esther Greenwood, a college student from Massachusetts, travels to New York to work on a magazine for a month as a guest editor. She works for Jay Cee, a sympathetic but demanding woman. The sponsors of their trip wine and dine them and shower them with presents. Esther knows she should be having the time of her life, but she feels deadened. The execution of the Rosenbergs worries her, and she can embrace neither the rebellious attitude of her friend Doreen nor the perky conformism of her friend Betsy.