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Fixed on Fiction

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

In April, Fixed on Fiction met to discuss The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.

-Summary courtesy of Goodreads.

We began our discussion with a brief history of Sylvia Plath. Specifically- the themes in The Bell Jar that mirrored her real life experiences. Here are some of the initial comments readers made while discussing their reaction to this month’s title:

  • I loved it. Flawed in many ways. I could see the poet coming through in the gorgeous language. She conveyed severe depression so clearly. You can’t get everything out of The Bell Jar in one reading. I found the theme of a creative woman struggling to find someone to help her find her role in the world very interesting.
  • This was a special read…I loved it. I was expecting it to be super depressing, but there were a lot of funny moments. Everyone wanted to put Esther in a certain box- still true of women today.
  • I very much enjoyed this. You can never know how another person thinks- the doctors didn’t even really know what to do with her. It made me wonder how others are feeling, if they need help.
  • I really liked it- very descriptive writing. I identified with her feeling lost at that age. I was angry with the first doctor, but I felt hopeful at the end.
  • This was so-so for me. I was pretty bored during the first half. I did like getting into her head during the second half of the novel. I’m glad I read it.
  • I really loved the first half. I liked seeing her life from the outside and then the slow reveal of what was really happening internally.
  • I found it disturbing that the bell jar could descend at any time. The beginning of the novel felt like her outward appearance and the second half is the analysis of what’s going on in her mind.
  • I really liked it. I could really relate to her description of the time period. The hats, the gloves, the lack of birth control, etc.
  • I also identified with the time period because I did live in a New York City hotel after college. It was very sad…a person who was so talented but also so self-doubting.

Other books, TV series, and films Fixed on Fiction is enjoying-   

These are just a few of the comments made during our meeting. Please feel free to share additional thoughts on The Bell Jar below. 




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