The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath


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I kind of give it like five stars out of five.

You know, it’s hard for me to give a book five stars out of five because I am afraid that the perfect book will show up, the book of all books, and I will have nothing left to give it. (Like in The fault in our stars when Hazel saves the 10 on her pain scale for when.. you know..) I suppose it’s really about the fact that feelings and opinions (and most things really) rarely can be translated into numbers. But we’re all humans here (I suppose) (gosh, I really need to stop with all of these parenthesis) and as humans we like to sort things out, categorise them and place them in their correct compartments. Except that – spoiler alert – life doesn’t work like that. Which is why, apart from just giving The bell jar almost five stars out of five, I am going to write down my completely subjective opinions and feelings and other things that have no scientific importance and a value of nothing whatsoever, except for, you know, everything. And also, actual spoiler alert for a few paragraphs down, but you’ll see that. For now you can read on without fear.

So the writer of The bell jar is Sylvia Plath. The bell jar is a book by the way. This is a book review. Haven’t really done any of those, not on the internet at least, but I like to read and I like to write so it seemed like a good idea.
First of all I love the way Sylvia Plath writes. She has a very defined voice and I felt extremely close to the main character. Sometimes she would write something that I would agree with wholeheartedly, looking at the world the way I feel I do too, yet I had to stop reading and just breathe for a few seconds because of the brilliant way she expressed it. And I would think Yes. Yes, exactly.
     She also has a way of including the important parts of the story. Every part serves a purpose, even when it’s not loaded with tension. It is though, a story about depression. I suppose you should know that before reading it. I personally love reading this kind of stories and actually find them relaxing somehow, but if you don’t work like that then perhaps you should skip it. On the other hand I wish for everyone to read it because I feel like it’s something more people should understand. While reading the book I also felt such a strong urge to help the main character. I love trying to solve my friends’ problems and I guess it’s in our human nature to try to fix things. Which is why it’s so frustrating when you can’t. In this situation partly because it’s a fictional character, but even in my head I didn’t know what I could have actually done. This is, I suppose, the part we should understand, that it’s not always as easy as fixing.

Le paragraph of spoilers

Sylvia Plath killed herself about a month after the book was released. And the book is called something of a self-biography. It doesn’t actually end with her killing herself though, she goes on to improve slightly from her depression even though she writes that she fears the glass bell jar one day will descend upon her once again, making it impossible for her to breathe. If the book is as self-biographic as it’s said it tells the story of her youth, and when she actually wrote the book several years must have passed. And I suppose it did happen, that she couldn’t escape it. She knew, which is one of the most horrible things to know, that there were some things in herself against which she could not fight back.
     I can’t help but wonder if she could have written herself a happier ending. Not to belittle her depression, because I know that your awareness sometimes shrinks down, like moving into a tunnel where you can no longer see the light. The glass bell jar descends and there’s nothing you can do. But especially before I knew of the books self-biographic nature, I asked myself if she could have saved herself by completely saving the person in it. Then again, if there was a way to fix it, I suppose she would apply it to herself instead of writing a book about it.

So finally… read it? Read it. Definitely. If you, like me, find it intriguing that it’s depressing. I think it’s the type of book that helps me see clearer, and so it actually calms me. And even though towards the ending you won’t be able to put it down, there is no rush in the beginning. I did put it down, many times. To breathe and to think. It was exquisite and I will carry it with me for a long time.

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