One word: claustrophobic. This is very fitting given the symbolism of the title; enclosed, trapped, restricted, restrained, confined, repressed, oppressed. Reading The Bell Jar, for me, became an exercise of will, and like Esther constrained in her airtight bell jar, I found it a little hard to breathe while being immersed in her stifling world. It's an overwhelming novel, and I admit that reading it for long bouts became nearly impossible. I can usually whiz through a chunky book in an evening or two, but The Bell Jar seemed to stretch on and on and on. This is both criticism and praise.
|Courtesy of Karen D. Tregaskin|
|Sylvia Plath, 1957|
|Courtesy of Dave Quiggle|
Honestly, the truth of it all: this book made me uncomfortable in the worst sort of way. It hit too close to home; I felt no ease while reading it. Rather, I read paragraph after paragraph on edge, anxiously awaiting the boom, the subtle likenesses to myself that made me close the book and seek solace in something numbing. Turn on the Nicki Minaj. Make a coffee. Boot up Civ V. And forget the churning in my stomach, the nausea caused by Sylvia Plath's swirling universe. This is an affecting novel. Reader beware.
I told him I believed in hell, and that certain people, like me, had to live in hell before they died, to make up for missing out on it after death, since they didn't believe in life after death, and what each person believed happened to him when he died.
Sylvia Plath - excellent information on her poetry and prose
The Bell Jar - upcoming movie adaptation
The Bell Jar Tumblr - lots of "I am. I am. I am."