Customer Reviews for

The Bell Jar

Average Rating 4.5
( 431 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Bell Jar belongs on your shelf!

Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar" reads like a wistful poem with its intriguing voice that echoes in the reader's ears long after the last page has been turned. Esther, the main character, is living what is supposed to be the perfect life for a young woman: she is attractiv...
Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar" reads like a wistful poem with its intriguing voice that echoes in the reader's ears long after the last page has been turned. Esther, the main character, is living what is supposed to be the perfect life for a young woman: she is attractive, academically successful, and is on her way to a glamorous career. But beneath this perfection pops up the depression which strangles her joy and smears misery into everything she does. The most magnificent part of the story is how I felt like I was drifting into the depression and insanity myself. This story is set in the mid-1900s, and it offers a fresh break from vampires and werewolves. Perfect for personal reading, "The Bell Jar" transcends beyond the super-cheery, life-is-perfect 'girl story' and offers something memorable all young adults can at least partially relate to.

posted by SilverrStarr on February 6, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

24 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

The Bell Jar Review

The Bell Jar by Slyvia Plath is a troubling look into a young girls struggle with depression during the 1950's. The book begins with Esther, the main character, and her experience during an internship in New York. She finds herself unhappy with what is happening in her ...
The Bell Jar by Slyvia Plath is a troubling look into a young girls struggle with depression during the 1950's. The book begins with Esther, the main character, and her experience during an internship in New York. She finds herself unhappy with what is happening in her life. Her unhappiness escalates quickly and continues throughout the book. The book gives a clear depiction of how depression can consume your life.

Throughout the novel, Esther's slowly grows and pulls you as a reader in. Plath's description of Esther's decent into "the bell jar" is chilling; it almost seems that her depression is logical. The bell jar being Esther's feeling of being trapped and suffocated. Soon Esther finds herself unhappy with everything and resorting to unhealthy measures.

I thought this book was a gripping view into a girl's life. It was not action packed of filled with suspense but it was a interesting tale of how deep someone can fall into depression. I would recommend this book to others. It has great description and good attention to detail. Overall the books writing style can really grab you if you let it.

posted by 2407844 on December 11, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2009

    The Bell Jar Review

    The Bell Jar by Slyvia Plath is a troubling look into a young girls struggle with depression during the 1950's. The book begins with Esther, the main character, and her experience during an internship in New York. She finds herself unhappy with what is happening in her life. Her unhappiness escalates quickly and continues throughout the book. The book gives a clear depiction of how depression can consume your life.

    Throughout the novel, Esther's slowly grows and pulls you as a reader in. Plath's description of Esther's decent into "the bell jar" is chilling; it almost seems that her depression is logical. The bell jar being Esther's feeling of being trapped and suffocated. Soon Esther finds herself unhappy with everything and resorting to unhealthy measures.

    I thought this book was a gripping view into a girl's life. It was not action packed of filled with suspense but it was a interesting tale of how deep someone can fall into depression. I would recommend this book to others. It has great description and good attention to detail. Overall the books writing style can really grab you if you let it.

    24 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 6, 2012

    Bell Jar belongs on your shelf!

    Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar" reads like a wistful poem with its intriguing voice that echoes in the reader's ears long after the last page has been turned. Esther, the main character, is living what is supposed to be the perfect life for a young woman: she is attractive, academically successful, and is on her way to a glamorous career. But beneath this perfection pops up the depression which strangles her joy and smears misery into everything she does. The most magnificent part of the story is how I felt like I was drifting into the depression and insanity myself. This story is set in the mid-1900s, and it offers a fresh break from vampires and werewolves. Perfect for personal reading, "The Bell Jar" transcends beyond the super-cheery, life-is-perfect 'girl story' and offers something memorable all young adults can at least partially relate to.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2007

    Disappointing

    I admit that I was dying to read the book once I heard of it - rushed to this store with the excuse that I needed it for school, when in reality it was a lie. I I was deeply intrigued by the beginning of the story, I couldn't leave the book alone - it joined me everywhere I went, but soon enough it lost that spark. I don't see 'her rapid downward spiral,' to me it was just her usual insane escapades, nothing more. Although it is interesting to know that this was Plath's account of her insanity, I must say I was let down by that second portion of the novel.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Truly a classic.

    Beautifully written, beautifully structured. Especially interesting to read now, as a contrast in time.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Bell Jar; Not living up to its hipe

    Beginning very good. Middle was slow and becoming uninteresting. I trudge thru and it got a bit better towards to end. Will keep in my library but only recommending for a rainy days reading.

    6 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 12, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Blew Me Away! Considering how much I love the movie 10 Things I

    Blew Me Away!

    Considering how much I love the movie 10 Things I Hate About You, I’m pretty surprised by how long it has taken me to finally read The Bell Jar. I think it is because I have heard so much about it’s depressing nature that I was wary. How could such a depressing book be so wonderful? But since it is on my 2013 TBR Challenge list, Classics Club challenge and 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list, I finally read it. And now I know why it’s such a hit.




    A semi-autobiographical book, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath tells the story of Esther Greenfield, a high achieving young woman who spirals downward into depression and insanity. What surprised me about this book is that I didn’t find it nearly as depressing as I expected it to be and was able to follow her rationalizations for her thoughts and actions. This is one of the reasons for the book’s long-term success, but experiencing it firsthand is a totally different ball game. It reminds me of Elizabeth Wurtzel’s book More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction (she also wrote Prozac Nation), where the reader jumps headfirst down into the rabbit hole with the author.Prior to reading this book, I had never really paid much attention to Sylvia Plath. I considered her an author that I would get to someday and finally, years later, I am reading her for the first time. While I knew that she committed suicide at a young age and was known for The Bell Jar and her poetry, I had no idea that the book was as closely aligned with her real life as it was. The introduction and biographical section at the end of the book gives the reader a great insight into the development and publication of the book, which was just as interesting as the book itself. I was totally surprised to learn that The Bell Jar was originally released under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas.




    If you haven’t read this book, then you definitely should. While it’s dark in nature, it’s not the depressing cry-myself-to-sleep book that I thought it was going to be. Instead, it gives the reader a birds eye view of what it’s like to slowly unravel. Anyone who has battled anxiety will relate to certain aspects of this book, and it, dare I say, normalizes insanity.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2012

    Mad as can be.

    Plath's execution of this novel was superlative. She clearly illustrated for the reader Esther's deteriorating state, almost too perfectly. She truly lead you to empathize with Esther, (which was certainly not always a good thing) furthermore it lead you to understand the state of her mind and her total lack of sanity. I found that empathizing with her provided more of a beneficial position for myself as the reader. Overall, this book was tragically beautiful. A must read, sincerely.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Not the best.

    This is one of those books where you either love or hate it. I admire Plath's writing style, but the execution is muddy, you can tell the author was mad when you feel like killing yourself the more you progressed into the story. It had potential, but it's just not my taste and felt as if the book did not connect with me at all. Only read it if you can somehow relate to the author and have a ton of patience, because the plot is drawn out and has no climax.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

    not recommended

    Its actually an autobiography which I didn't understand until the end of reading and the only point which I became truly engaged. The book was tiresome and no parts were captivating. I would not recommend this book.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 11, 2012

    Pure Genius!!! I don't recall ever being so moved by a book as I

    Pure Genius!!!
    I don't recall ever being so moved by a book as I felt when I read The Bell Jar. The way in which Plath likens the feelings of detatchment and solitude felt by sufferers of depression to a belljar is pure genius. This book is not only thought provoking, it also provides an invaluable insight into the unknown territory of insanity. This book is a must read for anyone remotely interested in mental health and also anyone who has ever experienced depressive illness. I highly recommend it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Julia Stiles is going to mess up the film adaptation of this...

    It's a shame Sylvia Plath left the world only one completed novel. Too bad she burned the follow-up novel to this work.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Don't Bother!

    This book is a disappointment. It started out okay and interesting, but it descends into nothing but complete boredom. Understanding that this is tragic story, I still did not see a talent in Sylvia Plath's writting.

    I would never recommend this book to any person. It's basically a waste of time, nothing learned, nothing gained, only words.

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Sylvia Plath produces an excellent offering!

    If you have ever wondered what mental illness looks like from the inside out this book could give you that insight. I, having had several family members with mental illness, was looking for just that. What amazes me is the brilliance that often accompanies mental illnesses. Plath's writing is so easy to relate to, even with the gap in years between now and then. She is not antiquated. She is bold and open. This is a truly authentic piece of literature. I would suggest it for your home library.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2008

    AWESOME!

    The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath, is an intense novel about a struggling young woman named Esther Greenwood. Esther is brilliant, beautiful and talented. Unfortunately, she starts to slip under the tight grip of insanity. As the reader, you slip with Esther into her bell jar and get a deep look into the disturbing crevices of the human mind. I thought this novel was extremely well written and it is a book that you will not want to put down! The plot is shocking and twisting on a somewhat different and new level of darkness. This is definitely a classic and a great book for all ages.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2005

    worst book ever

    this book was horrible. absolutely no story line. the horridness of the book is only surpassed by Hard Times by Charles Dickens

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2014

    The non-fiction novel, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath reveals the

    The non-fiction novel, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath reveals the life of Esther Greenwood, a college student from Massachusetts who suffers from depression. Esther is sent on a trip to New York to work for a magazine as an editor, but is struggling to enjoy her trip like the rest of the girls. She finds herself disliking all the clothes she had bought for the trip and feeling very empty throughout the trip. Esther decides not to marry her hypocrite college boyfriend Buddy Willard, who lost his virginity before marriage. Esther attempts to lose her virginity as well, but is assaulted and almost raped by a man she was on a date with. When Esther returns home her depression begins to worsen and she seeks treatment, which only makes things worse. Esther begins to consider killing herself.
    Sylvia Plath wrote this book to inform the reader about depression and how it affects the lives of people who are depressed. This is shown when Esther “knew something was wrong with [her] that summer, because all I could think about was the Rosenbergs and how stupid I’d been to buy all those uncomfortable, expensive clothes […] and how all the little successes [she] totted up so happily at college fizzled to nothing […]” (2). This reveals that although Esther knows something is wrong with her, she can’t fix herself. Her mind is also set on the Rosenberg execution and she “[…] couldn’t help wondering what it would be like, being burned alive along your nerves” (1). This reveals she is already wondering what it’d be like to die.
    Also, when Esther returns home “[she] hadn’t washed [her] hair for three weeks […] [she] hadn’t slept for seven nights” (127), and she was wearing the same clothes she arrived home in. This displays how Esther’s mental health has begun to take over her life and prevent her from doing normal everyday things. “I [Esther] would be simple Elly Higginbottom, the orphan. People would love me for my sweet, quiet nature” (132) reveals Esther’s longing for a different life where she was happy and people would love her, which again displays Esther’s mental health getting the best of her because she wants to change who she is completely.
    Without giving away the ending, I also think the author wrote this book to provide hope for the reader when life becomes rough.
    I liked this novel because Esther was very independent despite her mental illness. For example, she does not want to marry her seeming perfect college boyfriend because “[she] did not want to give [her] children a hypocrite for a father” (119). This reveals Esther’s independence because she goes against what everyone expected to do and makes her own decisions because she does not think Buddy is good enough for her. In addition, I liked how Plath wrote the novel because it allows the reader to understand that Esther’s mental illness is slowly becoming worse as she slips farther into depression.
    Furthermore, I enjoyed how Plath showed the reader the world through the eyes of someone burdened with depression. For example when Esther is waiting to meet Doctor Gordon, she feels like the other patients “around [her] weren’t people, but shop dummies, painted to resemble people and propped up in attitudes counterfeiting life” (142). This shows Esther’s feelings towards the other mental patients and that she feels that she soon too will be just a ‘shop dummy.’ Also, when receiving treatment for her illness, she “wondered what a terrible thing it was [she] had done” (143) to receive this treatment. She blames herself for her mental illness and wonders what she could have done that was so bad that she needed to be punished for it.
    Overall, I enjoyed reading this novel and could not find anything I did not like in it. I recommend this novel to others, especially if they are going through a tough time in life, or if they feel depressed, because it is a good read and it is an inspiring novel that provides hope.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2013

     

     

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2013

    Boring towards end

    When i was reading the beginning of the book, it was really exciting. I loved it. Now i am on page 85 or so and it is pretty boring. It has no climax, and even though i usually dont read adventure books,i wanted more.the beginning had many funny situations (like to kill a mocking bird) but were i am now all she talks about is what she pysically sees. It is sort of disapointing. Nothing is happening.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2012

    Excellent

    Plsth's voice is unmistakable. Hers is a story set in the 50s that nevertheless feels completely real.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2012

    Excellent!

    Feels likr you are in her mind!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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