Reading all of the recent coverage on other blogs and newspaper articles has made me want to go out and buy yet another copy of The Bell Jar. Sylvia Plath is one of my favourite authors. I love the themes, I love her honest and sharp writing style. Her short stories and her poetry are powerful too.
I read The Bell Jar for my A-Level English Literature course and I loved it from the start. It was refreshing to read a book that was honest about life. I reread the book so many times that the pages came away from the spine. At one point I owned three copies. All were plastered with notes in the margins, folded down corners, hi-lighted sections and doodles.
The Bell Jar is set in the 1950s when women were able to start making choices about their life - career or housewife. Esther, the protagonist is at a cross roads with her life: career or settle down. The search for balance and perfection is overwhelming as she balances with her fragile mental state. Life and all of its possibilities can become overwhelming to the point where you can not make a decision. Even though the book is set in the 1950s it still has relevance today. Society's expectations on women is still the same. We are being pulled in all directions and yet, we must always be perfect.
Most people focus on the mental breakdown parts of The Bell Jar, which at times are horrifying (Electric shock treatment) but there is also alot of humour too. I like my humour dark and Plath delivers in The Bell Jar.
At university, I set myself a challenge of reading her journals as I hoped it would inspire me to keep long-term journals. Which it didn't unless you count this blog. I have always been keen to keep a journal but I always give up or forget after a week. But they are insightful and inspiring for a writer and reader.
I kept forgetting to renewing the book at the university library and ended up paying several fines. Luckily, I came across a hardback edition in a second bookshop and my bank account was saved. I still need to finish reading her journals because the volume is a big beast - it's heavy like a doorstop and as thick as a doorstep ... maybe a challenge for later this year.
The thing that reminded me to write this post was The Paris Review posting one of my favourite quotes on Facebook:
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ―Sylvia Plath
The title of this blog post is also a quote from Sylvia Plath.