Book Review: Descending into the Lonely Spiral of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar

book review the bell jarThe Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath’s shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity. 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. (Goodreads)


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Return to Poseidon

Today I stood in the middle of a sea: a great white sea of papers and parchments and pain crashing one after the other with all the madness of a tidal wave, screaming to kiss the shores with all the urgency of a ticking time bomb. I stood in the middle of the raging waters and looked longingly at the immeasurable vastness of this now foreign territory, an ocean-deep of memories from my five-year stay at the university. Piles and piles of papers lay before me like flowing river: test papers, term papers, thesis drafts, photocopied pages of books from all of my adored authors, sheets of scratch and sentiments.

I looked each of them with wistful eyes, trying not to remember the long tough days when I once clung onto them like a child, like my whole life depended on every single word written on their pages. I read these words now, treaded on them carefully as if trying to extract a secret code, to see if maybe I had missed something important in all of my five-year education in philosophy. But in the end I only see these words words words and the absence of their context, their meaning, and realize that maybe I could never think again as deeply as when I did when I was there in the university—face to face with the unspeakable colors of dusk, the gentle breeze wheezing from the lonely river nearby, the gentle rhythm of trees swaying as in a dance, the sound of students’ laughter seeping through the cracks of time.

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An Exodus

The three of us were engaged in a conversation under the blanket of that crowded Monday morning. The smell of reconstruction greeted everyone with unexpected dose of delight. The sight of freshly painted walls and newly-lighted rooms brought a sense of exhilaration to everyone who was there. Murmurs turned to clamors as everyone breathed the scent of last year’s spirit to fill the heart with last year’s tales. Footsteps rushed to and fro along the hallway as voices filled the solemn atmosphere with howls of New Year’s greeting.

The three of us were engaged in a conversation. As everyone busied themselves with the stories of holidays, we talked about the things of the past. We talked about the Holocaust, we talked about death. We talked about the Vatican and the evils that lurk beneath them. We talked about world wars and concentration camps and how living is such a difficult thing in the age of nuclear bombs and narcissism.

We talked about dying.

For a moment there my mind drifted off of the conversation and wandered around. I was overtaken by the grand spectacle from up there and how such an unmistakable beauty transforms to a lovely view from the sixth floor of the university. I mean, people take it for granted sometimes. The sight of lush green trees screaming to reach the grandeur of the blue skies that stretched from the corners of the earth, the outlines of the towering skyscrapers that create an illusion in the vastness of the horizon, the whisper of the calming breeze that every now and then visits the far corners of my frigid heart, the way I am comforted by a feeling of familiarity, of companion, in such a place where I mostly feel alone.

There was sadness in every inch of my shriveling skin as my eyes searched for something to hold on to, a kind of sadness one feels when one is too frustrated or too desperate it makes them drown in a maelstrom of sickly human emotions, a kind of sadness that gives birth to some existential angst and later on transforms into questions no one has any answer for, a kind of sadness that Holden Caulfield probably felt when he imagined himself catching children in the rye.  Continue reading “An Exodus”