The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath was originally published in 1963 under the name Victoria Lucas. This novel is believed to be semi-autobiographical. Sylvia Plath’s real life did reflect a lot of the things happening in the life of Esther Greenwood.
In high school, this book was “the book” to read for those girls who were “different” or the ones who wanted the word to know they were full of teenage angst. I refused to read the book during those years because I was not a follower and I didn’t want to be like those girls. As I grew older I was seeing a lot of references to The Bell Jar in other’s writing and in movies as well. Esther Greenwood was the woman who women like me were supposed to connect with, identify with and to be touched by her story. When I say “women like me” I mean women who have/are suffering, dealing, managing or have overcome mental illness. I waited years to read this book and I waited years only to be disappointed.
Ok Plath lovers put down the pitchforks, allow me to explain. Esther Greenwood is a young white woman from Boston. She is staying in New York for an internship for a big-time fashion magazine, going to parties and hooking up. Though I know depression and mental illness is nondiscriminatory I just never related to Esther, her life, and my life never crossed paths.
I held my breath waiting for that aha moment where I would tell myself “This is what I have been waiting for”, sadly that didn’t happen. Finishing this book only left me disappointed and relieved it was over.
Silvia Plath lost her battle with depression and committed suicide shortly after the book was released. I’m happy for her that her book will forever be a classic and loved by many, I just wish I was one of those people. Maybe when I was younger Esther and I would have met on common ground but since my younger years, my life has taken many turns and changed me more as a person.