Book Review: The Bell Jar

Title: The Bell Jar
Author: Sylvia Plath
Genre: Semi-autobiographical
Rating: 5 out of 5

Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar was one of the books that I read during my episodes of depression, and there is no other book that could depict just how vague, complicated, and difficult  mental illnesses are.

Esther Greenwood's decline to depression, and eventually suicide, speaks volumes about the complexity of the human psyche: that even the smallest and minute events can lead to the dwindling of one's self-worth and will to live, that no one can really pinpoint the one and true reason for someone's depression. I, for one, keep people's minds boggled why I have succumbed to depression: I have a wonderful family, I have a job, I have a blossoming love life, I have great friends, and I have a generally good life—but I am still depressed. So why? 

I don't know. And this is how Plath portrays Esther's story: the reader cannot fully understand the root of her depression, why she decided to die, and how she still fears that the "bell jar" of depression will cover up and invade her world again. 

Plath describes depression as a bell jar: it hovers over your head, covers you under its dome, and keeps you trapped in a prison of sadness, emptiness, and solitude. She clearly describes the pains of going through electric shock treatments for her illness, her attempts at ending her life, her constant inner battles, and her days in the asylum.

Plath's writing is spontaneous, one that really depicts just how unpredictable life is—that life is a series of events that one cannot expect to happen in spite of how much you plan it so. When you read The Bell Jar, you cannot guess what happens next, unlike most novels where each and every plot is carefully laid out to create a climax and a resolution. The Bell Jar parallels Plath's life and her personal experience on her treatment for depression, and this is where the true beauty of the book springs from: it is a story of a life.


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