The Bell Jar

Thursday, 23 January 2003

I finished The Bell Jar last night. I can’t really say that it blew me away. The obvious autobiographical references to Plath’s own life were rather…obvious, and the depiction of mental decay and rebirth didn’t do much for me either. Granted, since the narrator is the crazy one, the narrative is going to be colored by and twisted by hestitancy and outright refusal to tell us everything. For instance, Esther hates Buddy Willard. But if you think about the times you actually meet Buddy he’s not that bad of a guy. I didn’t like the asylum bits either. they seemed clich , perhaps this is because of my distance from when people still got shock treatments. of course they are horrible. also, since it is set in the ber-restrictive and conservative post-war years, the McCarthyite era, the proper things to do etc. that Esther has problems with just bored me. things have changed, but The Bell Jar hasn’t. it is one of those works that is radical for its time but seems stuffy and whiny to us young’uns.

i think i don’t like it because it is too attached to the time it was written. now it seems a period piece, and the ’50s are kitschy that anything about them doesn’t interest me much.