The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath Do you ever read a book that completely nails a feeling? Plath somehow manages to show the slow mental breakdown of a twenty-something writer living in New York City during mid-twentieth century. Plath doesn't shy away from the complex, difficult-to-explain feelings. She depicts her uncomfortable experiences on the conveyor belt of dating, the manipulations she faces amongst jealous coworkers, the paranoia of failure, the bland nature of loveless relationships, and how one has to manuever around everyone else's expectations in order to live in the real world. Plath also puts into words why I am grateful to live in the twenty-first century. She describes the warring expectations of women to both be virtuous examples of chastity AND be ready to please a man whenever expected; that despite how her good marks in school and admission to this prestigious college, men still see what she does as unimportant and just baby steps towards marriage; Esther's terrifying fear that if she fails, she'll fall into this self-titled "unremarkable" vortex. Plath pinpoints, much later in the novel, that Esther has no choice. Her life is already laid out for her, under the manipulative pretense of "progressive" options. Anyone who strays from the worn path--offered in the very magazine that Esther interned at--find themselves pushed into dark corners. There are so many other things I could ramble about, but Plath's ability to capture those difficult-to-capture feelings REALLY impressed me.