2020 Book Review: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

This novel written by Sylvia Plath is obviously a story inspired by her own life without being a direct autobiography the parallels are clear if you know of Plath’s life. There is a saying for a writer to write what they know, knowing what I do about Plath this is a true example. The story of a woman slowly losing grip with her sanity. It’s well known that Plath, herself, struggled with mental issues, spending at least one time in an institution, and was suicidal which she ultimately committed.

She struggles like her character, Esther Greenwood does in the tale. She’s beautiful and successful and she’s struggling at the same time in history that Plath herself did. I am not sure if this was all done purposefully or by accident, at least in the beginning. As a writer myself, I have noticed that sometimes my work can have hints of reflections of my life. Even one of the most popular interview questions they have asked me is if my characters are inspired by or based on myself or others I know. I usually respond, “to a point” and “writing what you know happens”.

It’s a very saddening tale when you realize it’s a reflection, at least it was for me. I went into this clean slate and believing that it was just a story until my knowledge about the poetess’ life took its toll. I believe it was done on purpose. She is known for doing this through her poetry, why wouldn’t she in her novel?

The entire story could’ve been very much a cry for help. I will never truly know, and this is all my opinion and just a theory, but my heart does go out those struggling. Even I struggle, not with the same issues, but my own. Because of this, the book spoke to me.

This review is a part of my 2020 yearlong self-challenge to read and review. I have reread some books for the purpose of reviewing them on my website whereas I have read others for the first time. Check out Book Reviews and Recommendations to find other book reviews, book recommendations, and more information about the books I’m reading, have read, or are sharing.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Let’s have a conversation about it.

6 thoughts on “2020 Book Review: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath”

  1. Poor Sylvia. I think even subconsciously writers tend to write about what interests them and what’s troubling them. There is a lot about writing that helps the writer work through problems. It makes sense that the book mirrored aspects of Plath’s life.

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  2. I can completely see how it would leave a great impact. Sometimes literature does that. I wonder though if she had not passed if her work would have such an everlasting impression.


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