Book Review: The Bell Jar

Friday, December 18, 2015

On my recent Indigo haul, I picked up a couple of novels that were on my "to-read" list. One of these books was The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Personally, I'm the classics reader meaning that I almost always stick to classic novels (aka, the oldies, but goodies). Yes, The Bell Jar is a classic, but compared to my favourite 19th century novels, this 20th century is among the youngest in my bookshelf. So, the reason why I was determined to buy this book was because of the premise: battling depression. Being a psychology major, the book really intrigued me and also because among all the strange and rare psychological disorders out there, depression seems to me the most mysterious disorder. A final reason for choosing this book was because of the plethora of praises Sylvia Plath's vivid writing has received. So, in about 1 week, I read the novel from cover to cover. Now, onto the review. 

To describe in 1 word my feeling and reaction to this novel, it would be: ambivalent. First thing's first, the novel was not quite as I expected, but on the other hand, what more could I have asked for? This is a novel written by someone who was also suffering from depression, so there really wasn't much room for error in writing about such a topic by such an author. I don't really know what I was actually expecting, so I'm kind of left with no other option but to say I enjoyed it, which I honestly really did. The book provides you a tour of the highlights of the protagonist Esther Greenwood's life and her thought processes. Esther's thinking supplies an enormous amount of metaphors and similes and details which characterizes what's going on in her mind. Indeed, Plath's writing is extremely vivid and goes straight to the heart; so much that after putting the book down, for a while you actually feel like her and can't sometimes help agreeing with her! I'm not sure if I would advise this novel for those with depression themselves, however, since the book is not much of a "self-help" book, rather it conveys what a depressed individual probably already knows and suffers from. 

I feel that this is the kind of novel that if you would want to really comprehend Esther Greenwood's downfall, then you would probably want to read it a second time; not because it's difficult to understand, but because depression and other psychological disorders are naturally unclear in terms of trying to pinpoint its triggers, if you would want to adopt a psychological view. 

Overall, I deeply value this novel in my collection and it really has opened my eyes to the nasty world of depression. Please, tet me know if you've read this or what you think about it.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

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