Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath

I read this book the summer after my senior year in high school. I think my mother was freaked because she thought I was reading it for practical suicide advice. As mature as I'd like to think I was as a reader, I remembered almost none of it aside from Esther's uncontrolled bleeding when she loses her virginity. This time around I was surprised by how well Plath uses humor. As the book goes along and the narrator succumbs to a spell of depression, the outrageous events slowly shift from humorous to troublesome; you stop laughing at them because they start to become signs of Esther's problem. I thought that was skillfully done. This book wasn't published in America until long after Plath's death because it was supposedly hard on Plath's mother, but I didn't think it was too critical. The times that the narrator criticizes her mother are times when her perception is skewed by her depression. Did Plath's mother expect to come out of a book written by a woman with a mental illness smelling like roses?

Rating: five and a half out of seven giant inflatable monkeys.

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