The book “The Bell Jar” by Silvia Plath was different from other books assigned through-out my time at high school. Most of the other books, including for example “Of Mice and Men”, Lord of the Flies”, and “The Heart of darkness” were stories about mostly men and how they all turned against each other in some way and acted like animals instead of humans, and in the end of all of them someone dies. The book “The Bell Jar” though is without a doubt my favorite so far because it is about a female and about all the pressures of everyday life that run through her head. This is something that I can relate to because I too think about some of these same worries such a as virginity, looks, and morals to name a few. I am claiming that the theme or the meaning of this book is that in order to stay sane in this world, you can’t let the pressures and worries run your actions and decisions and your life or else you will not be able to function. I feel that this is what happened to Esther. I think that these pressures to Esther are what set her over the edge and made her think the way that she did and made her think that something was wrong with her.
Sylvia Plath portrayed a lot of meaning in this book. The main idea and meaning that she, as a writer, was trying to portray to the reader, is to understand how the worries, burdens, and pressures of being a young, mature adult are enough to put someone, like Esther in a depression so deep that it gives the illusion to the reader that she is insane and not in touch with reality. I believe that it is a matter of her being depressed and not of her being insane because of all that is on her mind she cant think clearly which makes her seem insane because if the strange things that she talks of such as not being able to sleep or eat, or even write. I think that the author did a very good job of making her seem depressed to the point of “insanity” because of how she Esther feel like she wasn’t sleeping when really she was sleeping for hours upon hours when she was put into the institutions.
At an earlier part in the book, Sylvia Plath talked about how Esther is attending an all Women’s College and how she does not feel as though she belongs there because she is not as pretty as the other girls especially Doreen, a room-mate who Esther sees as much prettier and much more popular. The meaning Sylvia Plath is trying to get across with the first chapter is how even though Esther seems fine and probably blended right in with the other girls, inside she is tearing herself apart, comparing her looks and intelligence to others. Sylvia Plath was introducing to the reader the idea that many girls even tough they seem happy, really are not. She was showing how such little things build up inside a girls head and drive her to irrational behavior. Esther irrational behavior included her trying to kill herself numerous times. She tries to hang herself when she goes to stay with her mother. Esther also tries to end her life over dosing on some of her mothers pills in the basement of her mothers house. This action that Esther took is the main reason that she was put into an institution because if it weren’t for this no one may have ever known about Esther depression.
She does not just use the other girls as a stressor in Esther’s life though, even though it was something that she had suppressed. Esther is still very lost after her father’s death. The reader can figure this out because of how many times the author brings up her father’s death. Some examples of when Silvia Plath brings up Esther’s father’s death are in the beginning of the book when Esther is comparing herself to Doreen and thinking about perfect and happy Doreen is, and how she, Esther, has not been truly happy since she was 9 years old and her father died. Another way the reader can tell that the death of her father plays a big role in Esther’s hospitalization is because of the tremendous “break through” she has after visiting her father’s grave. This is a break through for her because she stated that she had never cried after her father’s death until then. As a reader, I think this is a very significant piece in the puzzle of what makes Esther so depressed to the point were she seems insane from the point of view of the reader.
The last and probably the most obvious factor in why Esther wanted to commit suicide and the main stress factor and idea that Sylvia Plath is trying to get across to the reader, is Esther’s virginity. Sylvia Plath writes about how Esther is still pure and is still a virgin, and how she wishes to remain this way until marriage. She also writes about how Esther thinks most others are virgins and pure as well. The reason that the author is using this as the main feeling and idea through-out the book is because speaking as a young adult, I can relate to how this topic is a huge stress factor in a young women’s life. It seems as though the author has Esther in this sort of fairy take land and is introducing her to the real world that not everyone is pure. Sylvia Plath does this when she writes about Buddy Willard and how he is telling her he has had an affair. It was too much for her to handle and she felt betrayed and wants to kill herself before she too is encountered by this evil untruthfulness that seems to have already engulfed everyone around her. The evilness portrayed by the author is the impureness and the secrets that the people around Esther posses.
The theme of this book, or at least what I as a reader interpreted from this book is that it’s not too far fetched to say that the everyday stressors that a girl encounters, are enough to drive her into a depression so deep that she is incapable of functioning normally, as these stressors did to Esther. Someday, everyone will have to face the truth, and that is that if one grows up thinking that everyone is pure and perfect, she will soon get a rude awakening. So to sum it all up, its best to open one’s eyes right from the start and see outside the bell jar rather than live one’s life hiding inside of it and watching life pass you by in blur.