Review: The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Whoever is still comparing this book to CATCHER IN THE RYE, please stop. CATCHER was a meandering, lackadaisical plod from pubescent interest into collegiate boredom. The “anyhows” and “anyways” served as fuel for my page-tearing rage. Needless to say, I didn’t like it. THE BELL JAR is informative, timeless, and full of finely tuned narrative.

Sylvia Plath poured herself into this book, utilizing her poetic understanding of language, creating a blend of well-to-read literature and true-to-life fascination. Both writers and clinicians would benefit from a study of this book. Although Plath ended her life before being diagnosed, her capturing of schizophrenia is realistic and true to form.

While dated, the transition into young-adult life is modern and timeless. The stresses to perform well in school, to maintain social protocol (dating, marriage), and sexual exploration are ever present today. Plath transcribes the nuances in brilliant fidelity.

Of interest, too, are the historical viewpoints of medical and psychological treatment. A sudden skin mole killing people within weeks; a lock-away TB treatment; and, of course, mental disorders and depression.

I would be remiss to say that if you are suffering confusion or depression that there is no shame in seeking help. There are times, many, where talking with someone or taking prescribed medicine can open a whole new world of happiness and contentment. There are times when things can’t be worked through on your own.

I also want to thank my good friend and fellow reviewer Allen Smalling ( for spotting this on my wish list and sending it over. Thank you, buddy.

This is a wonderful book that many will appreciate on several different levels.


6 thoughts on “Review: The Bell Jar

  1. Cole

    I completely agree with these 5 stars for “The Bell Jar”. Plath sometimes comes across as a tad dramatic in her poetry (or perhaps I read her that way because Plath poetry was part of my University set work), but with Bell Jar, her prose somehow illuminates her poetic process. This is one of my all-time favourites. Great review!

      1. Cole

        Um… that’s like comparing Danielle Steele to Stephen King 😛 “Catcher in the Rye” was boring for me, while “The Bell Jar” is intense. No comparison.

  2. Cory

    The Catcher in the Rye was my favorite book as a teenager, so I would still probably put it in the category of “loved.” But I have been thinking about reading the Bell Jar for some time, and this review encourages me to do so. Thanks!

    1. ryandejonghe Post author

      Thanks for swinging by! I didn’t read much before last year, so I missed out on Catcher earlier in my life. It may have been a different story if otherwise.


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