The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

     Esther is a college student who has won an internship in New York city working for fashion magazine. The story follows the events of this trip, told by Esther herself. A few highs, lots of lows, and everything in between.

What’s funny about this novel, for me, is that I remembered liking it a lot more when I read it in highschool… I guess I was going through my deep, introspective, “Do we really exist, or is this all in our minds?” phase. I can’t say I enjoyed it at all this time around. This is an autobiographical novel, and though it is a fictional work it does chronicle the author’s own mental breakdown and suicide attempt. It is mostly dark and Esther’s behavior is sometimes manic. She is also somewhat obsessed with the idea of sex (and men) though she has never been intimate with anyone. There is no real plot to the story, it’s mostly just a retelling of events which jumps back and forth in time, as events cause Esther to remember things from the past. This may be a good novel to read as a study of a depressed, suicidal mind (Sylvia Plath did eventually succeed in killing herself), but I wouldn’t say that it has the entertainment value a novel should have.

1) Overall Plot = 1
2) Characters = 2
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 2
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 3.5
5) Overall Enjoyability = 1

Average of  score 1.9
Overall grade = D

Where to buy the book: Amazon | B&N

This was book 46 in my 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge.

This was book 8 in my Classics challenge.

2 thoughts on “The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

  1. Brutal! I think it should have a mark for quality of language. What scale are we working with here? I know what you mean about entertainment value, but I don’t think the lack of a strong, dynamic plot is a weakness in the book. I think that the lack of direction coupled with the writing give it a really elagaic quality, which is quite chilling when you see how Plath’s life turned out.


  2. The scale that I use is just what I posted above. I score on those 5 areas, as those are the elements that generally make up good fiction, and though this book is of an autobigraphical nature it is still a work of fiction. Because Plath was a poet, she definitely used her words well, but that alone (at least for me) doesn’t save the book as a whole. The book definitely has value as insight into a depressed mind, but for entertainment purposes it leaves me wanting more. Thanks for stopping by and posting your thoughts… after all, I’m not the final authority on what’s enjoyable. These are just my opinions. I’m always open for a good discussion.


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