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Paperback The Bell Jar Book

ISBN: 0060930187

ISBN13: 9780060930189

The Bell Jar

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Book Overview

One of The Atlantic's Great American Novels

A realistic and emotional novel about a woman battling mental illness and societal pressures written by the iconic American writer Sylvia Plath.

"It is this perfectly wrought prose and the freshness of Plath's voice in The Bell Jar that make this book enduring in its appeal." -- USA Today

The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther...

Customer Reviews

20 ratings

please don’t buy acceptable books

i would not recommend getting an acceptable book. water damage, front cover is ripped and the whole book looks like ass. i’m quite disappointed but i guess that it what i get for my first time ordering; i have learned from my mistakes

slay balls

came in a way more fragile condition than expected like would snap in half if looked at incorrectly but other than that it’s an amazing read on gender norms , self identity , and such will be recommending this to literally everyone ever ,,, slay .

Glamorizing mental illness

Before reading sylvia plaths work please note that she is racist and she makes that clear in this story. Aside from her racism (which should not go unnoticed) this book is unfortunately good. Sylvia unequivocally encapsulates what it’s like to live as a women. I think that this story is so popular because of the shocking realization that a girl in the 50s can be thinking the exact same thoughts as a girl now. Although eerily relatable this book is also disturbingly depressing and possibly triggering. Would not advise reading this unless you’re fully confident in the strength of your mental health. I did infact spiral the entire way through. Recently this book has had a good amount of popularity from tik tok and i think the current readers are not acknowledging the deeper meaning at hand. This is a book about a young girls coming of age journey whilst battling mental illness. While yes, it is a good book, it is not something that should ever be romanticized or glamorized. Esther’s story is scary and made me depressed for days after i finished it because of the fact that this is such a universal experience for women. Reading the things she had to endure was so familiar. The pain and abuse that women face has been normalized and glamorized, when in all actuality it exists so widely because of the patriarchal system in which we live, and we as women are forced to disregard our suffering in fear. Mental illness is not cool!!! it’s an illness!!!!!

great condition & i love this book

my friend let me read hers and i ended up desiring a copy for myself so i bought this one and wow! i mean i paid a little extra for a “good condition” but really, it could have passed for a “like new” if not for the doggy eared pages, it’s perfect

Short but complicated read

The writing style is beautiful with captivating metaphors. The main character has a very unique thought process and is very independent. The book rather short does take awhile to fully process.

It's depressing

It's great, but it's depressing. I made the mistake of reading it right before going through some personal trauma and boy did I spiiiiiral. Plath's metaphors are beautiful and really stick with you after reading.

Loved It <3

this book has been one of my favorites for a couple years now and I still go back to it when I need to get out of my reading slump or just want to feel something again. The writing is genius and very well written everything from the details and descriptions are just flat out incredible. even if you don’t like “depressing” books this book is definitely worth reading . ALSO I gave this a 4/5 because although this book is amazing there is some slight racist comments but this book was made in the 60s so I can’t really blame but i just wanted to throw that out there. READ THIS!!!!!

Cult Classic

As a young woman, you think so much of how you are perceived and the expectations that you have to live up to. Sylvia Plath does an excellent job at describing the inner torment and struggle with mental illness that many are never able to find. Ethel is an just an average American girl, yet she is constantly in her head throughout so many monumental moments in her life. It’s very interesting to see that play out throughout the events of the book. I enjoyed the discussions and questions that have come up throughout my reading.


!!!!!!!!!!!! loved it, everybody should read it

Plath is a god

Beautifully written. A realistic and eye-opening dive into depression. Plath is deemed a genius for a reason.

Good but depressing

This book is a very good commentary on how young women of 1950s with mental health concerns were treated. It follows a girl named Esther as she has a mental breakdown and the subsequent journey that follows.

A Great Quick Read

It's a wonderfully written yet melancholy story. Unfortunately hits a little close to home so I am strung along quite intimately with her self doubt, indecisiveness, sadness, bleak future etc. This book is a good look into the mind and life of, quite possiblly, millions of individuals suffering from the same instabilities.

It gets real very quickly.

My one recommendation when reading The Bell Jar: be in a very healthy and very positive state of mind. This is an emotionally heavy novel. Plath describes the downward emotional spiral with such realism and accuracy that it takes you with her. The progression of events and emotions are so easily followed, so frighteningly logical, it astounded me.

An important book

"The Bell Jar" tells an important narrative involving not only women's rights, but the rights of the mentally ill as well. A must-read classic.

Love it.

Abstract and brilliant.

A beautiful and fragile book

Like millions of other young women, I'm sure, I came across "The Bell Jar" in college, and I felt an immediate attachment to the book: it uplifted me, angered me, scared me, and made me feel deeply protective, all at the same time. "The Bell Jar" tells the story of Esther Greenwood, an intelligent college student, as she slowly feels the "bell jar" of detachment and madness overtake her. As Esther goes from a prestigious internship in New York City to a summer at home with her mother in the Boston suburbs, her attachment to reality becomes more and more tenuous, until thoughts of suicide overtake her. It is no secret that the story has at least a partial basis in reality, and that Sylvia Plath is writing from her own experience is perhaps what makes Esther so deeply real. I recently wrote a review of "Bridget Jones' Diary," and although "The Bell Jar" is undoubtedly a better book, there is a certain similarity between the protagonists: like Bridget, Esther is a character who is almost universally relatable. It does not matter if the reader is psychologically healthy or not: Esther awakens what she is feeling in all of us. My emotional response to "The Bell Jar" was on par with my emotional response to certain real-life events. I was uplifted to find a shared experience; angered at Esther's responses--and at the fact that they seemed reasonable to me; scared at the uncertainty I felt about myself and my own psychological state by the end of the book; and deeply protective--of Esther, of Sylvia Plath, and of every other reader who shared my experience. I recognize that specifically speaking of the female experience when reading "The Bell Jar" could be considered rather narrow-minded of me. I certainly believe that this book can resonate with men as well, just as "The Catcher in the Rye" can resonate with women. There is something deeply female in Esther's experience, however, and I cannot put into words the extent of my appreciation that Plath was able to give a true voice to this femaleness, without getting defensive and without getting melodramatic.

A GREAT Classic!

I've been trying to broaden my reading range by throwing in a few classics here and there. One I had been interested in for quite some time is The Bell Jar. And with the Sylvia Plath movie coming out soon, I thought reading this book might be a nice complement to that. And what a real pleasure it turned out to be!The Bell Jar does not read like a classic - "classic" being the term of very old books with very old language - the description I've always had for the classic genre. This book has a very contemporary writing style, and despite it being written in the 1960s, The Bell Jar's topic of mental illness certainly transcends the generations and can be related by many people no matter when they read the book. I absolutely loved it!The Bell Jar tells the story of a young Esther Greenwood at the beginning of her mental decline. She first recognizes its oncoming during a summer of interning at a magazine company in New York City. Trying to fit in with the other interns, as well as dealing with boys and co-workers prove to be a struggle at times for Esther. And later, when the real depression and suicidal thoughts set in, readers are invited into a dark and scary world, one created realistically and with honesty by Ms. Plath.This book ranks high on my list of all-time favorites. I'm so glad I read it. From now on, if people want to read a classic (or a darn good book for that matter), I won't hesitate to suggest The Bell Jar. It's fantastic!

A true classic

I personally find Sylvia Plath's journals her most interesting work, but this comes in at a close second. This book will challenge just about anyone who reads it, whether you're depressed or not. If you've never been depressed in the way Esther is, you're going to ask yourself why she torments herself for no reason and perhaps feel that the storyline is implausible. the deeper you go into the book, the less sympathy you'll feel for her. If you HAVE been as depressed as Esther gets, you'll feel challenged for another reason: the book will reach TOO far into your mind and make TOO deep a connection with you because, well, Sylvia Plath describes depression very well. Her writing tends to make you feel like you and no one else are experiencing what she's going through with her, and it's pretty disturbing. However, it's also a quite rewarding experience. A "bell jar" is just a very apt term for a distorted view of the world that presents everything as seemingly inherently bad. Esther lives under one all the time, and she's not truly aware of it. Eventually her life is turned into a constant waking nightmare because she can't even say what's wrong with her. It's painful to read but it makes for some damn good reading. Reading this book will give you a very graphic idea of what it's like to live under a bell jar and what happens to people who live in permanent ones. You probably won't be the same after you read it.

The Bell Jar

I read this book immediately following "Girl, Interrupted" by Susanna Kaysen. This was an interesting coincidence because both these novels are (nearly) autobiolgraphical accounts of mental traumas these women suffered in their early 20's. In fact, both women had resided in the same mental hospital during their recuperation. I finished "Girl, Interrupted" a bit confused on how I had ever rationalized spending my time reading such a book in the first place. The author's over-personification of the trite theme of "crazy may be sane" wasn't even accompanied by a plot. Sadly enough, the most interesting part of the novel was the excerpt taken from a psychology textbook describing Kaysen's diagnosis. Then, I picked up "The Bell Jar," not knowing what it was about, and read it. It was everything "Girl, Interrupted" had tried to be and wasn't. The main character's experiences were real and meaningful, and the book itself tried less to shock its readers by trying to include monumental meaning, but instead, simply told its tale in a beautiful and harrowing way that perfectly reverberated the all-too-familiar struggles of a young woman emerging into an unfamiliar world that in its simpleness, conveyed more than even Kaysen could ever fathom being bestowed upon a reader.

Harrowing and hilarious

The fact that I have read this book at least 50 times probably makes me the most unobjective reviewer possible. Still, having read many other reviews of The Bell Jar, I am struck by the fact that most readers respond mainly to the harrowing portrayal of Esther's descent into madness rather than the wry, biting humor with which Plath describes it. Certainly, as a 19 year old college student myself, reading the novel as an easy way out of an assignment to get to know a modern American poet, I was most taken in by Plath's cynicism. Still, although cynical and satirical, this book approaches greatness because it hacks through the false outer shell of the world and divulges the ugly truth that everything means nothing...or nothing means anything, which is a great tragedy for a young, brilliant woman like Esther who has so much to look forward to. Unfortunately, she discovers that all of her hard work and success aren't going to pay off in any meaningful way. She may walk out of her psychiatrist's office in full control (at the end of the book) but one senses that the lesson she's learned, that something's wrong with everyone, will die hard. The ability to do all this with a sense of humor is amazing, not to mention that her use of simile is, perhaps, the best ever.

The Bell Jar Mentions in Our Blog

The Bell Jar in Sylvia and Ted: Their Troubled Romance
Sylvia and Ted: Their Troubled Romance
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • February 26, 2021

Sixty-five years ago today, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes met at a party in Cambridge. Their connection was immediate, powerful, and violent—a portent of their future together. Almost exactly seven years later Plath would die by suicide.

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