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Bibliomaniac Scarlet

I came here to keep in touch with all my friends who left GR after the censorship debacle. I read a little of every genre. I co-blog at Musings of a Bibliomaniac.

Currently reading

Burial Rites
Hannah Kent
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
Ana Juan, Catherynne M. Valente
Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

“To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream.”

The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

There is this scene in Chapter 10 of The Bell Jar where Esther Greenwood decides to write a novel.


"My heroine would be myself, only in disguise. She would be called Elaine. Elaine. I counted the letters on my fingers. There were six letters in Esther, too. It seemed a lucky thing."


I cannot help wondering, is that what Sylvia Plath thought when she wrote The Bell Jar? Did she, like Esther, sit on a breezeway in an old nightgown waiting for something to happen? Is that why she chose the name Esther? 6 letters - just like in Sylvia. For luck?


It's impossible to read The Bell Jar and not be affected, knowing what happened to Plath. I mean, it's everywhere. She is everywhere. All of Esther's musings are Plath's own. It's eerie. There's hardly any comfort even when Esther is freed from the bell jar; on the contrary, it's a brutal reminder that this book is ultimately, part fiction.


Plath's poetic prowess shows through her writing - especially the descriptions. They are so simple yet so fitting. There is one in particular I loved, where Esther compares her life to a fig tree:



"I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet"



Here's another:



"I saw the years of my life spaced along a road in the form of telephone poles, threaded together by wires. I counted one, two, three...nineteen telephone poles, and then the wires dangled into space, and try as I would, I couldn’t see a single pole beyond the nineteenth."



The writing is remarkably unemotional and I don't mean that as a bad thing. Esther's (or Plath's?) commentary dwells entirely on thoughts and perceptions, never feelings. Depression is so often mistaken as a form of sadness. This woman, however, is not sad. She is empty. She is a shell. She contemplates killing herself with a kind of ease that's unnerving.


The Bell Jar did not make me cry but I wish it did. What I'm left with now is a deep sense of unhappiness that I don't think tears can fix.


Why is it that the most talented always fall prey to the bell jar? It's such a waste.