The Bell Jar Study Guide

The Bell Jar Study Guide

Original title:
The Bell Jar
Published 2006 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published January 1963)
Boston, Massachusetts,1953(United States)
New York City, New York,1953(United States)
ISBN 0061148512 (ISBN13: 9780061148514)

Sylvia Plath wrote only one novel and it was enough for her to make a name for herself as a great writer. “The Bell Jar” is in part an autobiographical book that talks about the mental state of the protagonist who tried to take her own life.

The novel concerns the life of Esther Greenwood, who is a student living in Massachusetts. At the beginning of the plot, she is in New York going through an editorial internship and getting a very good treatment from her supervisor and the organizers of the trip. Despite all that, she doesn’t feel comfortable. She has trouble understanding her friends, has a difficult relationship with men and questions her abilities and future.

The girl is torn between a desire to get married and devote herself to the husband and kids and the urge to fulfill her potential and ambitions. She has a very acute sense of justice and can’t forgive her boyfriend for cheating on her. As a result of many small upsetting events and a cruel psychological treatment, the girl decides to kill herself.

Her attempt fails and she is sent to a number of mental hospitals and clinics. The reader follows the ups and downs of her treatment progress and, in the meantime, Esther manages to live her life, builds friendships and loses her virginity. She goes back to school but knows that it’s only a matter of time until the madness comes back to hunt her.

“The Bell Jar” is a dark novel that nevertheless deserves to be read and discovered. Our society often underestimates the effects depression can have on a person and tends to stigmatize people who ask for help. It’s important to understand that mental illness is a condition, and in no way it is a sign of weakness or cowardice.

New Essays

The Bell Jar

?Unraveling Parallels In her modern classic, Sylvia Plath tells the story of a neurotic woman on the grip of insanity. The Bell Jar presents the atypical coming-of-age of the successful and magnetic Esther Greenwood. As her mental health declines, she longs to escape her cosmopolitan life through...

How we Breathe-The Bell Jar model

How do we breathe? Clara and Dominic have both produced a statement, upon how the bell jar represents the way we breathe, our respiratory system. Clara states that the model is correct as it shows that we breathe because the diaphragm moves up and down, on the contrary Dominic says the model is...

The Bell Jar Analysis

Yvette Mendez Period: 2 2-26-12 The Trouble with Being a Woman A mother and faithful wife wakes up early every morning to make breakfast and set the table perfectly symmetrical, so that her husband and two children can eat when they wake up. Then the clock strikes eight and she kisses her husband...

The Bell Jar

Isolation and Alienation in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar Kate Finnegan In Sylvia Plath’s modern novel, The Bell Jar, the main character Esther isolates and alienates herself throughout the book because she mentally ill. Because her descent into a deep depression is slow and she leads a productive...

See all essays