The problem with The Bell Jar

I admit, I have always struggled with understanding what mental illness means. For me, I have only experience acute nervousness and stress that I overcome by closing my eyes and taking a few deep breaths. Thus every time that I read a book that involves a character with mental illness, it is extremely hard for me to establish a connection to the protagonist.

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman is a book that focuses on a boy who loses himself to his mental illness and ending up in a mental institution. The unconventional way of telling the story reflects the unconventionality of the mental illness, using a ship as an extended analogy of what the mental illness means for the boy.

In The Bell Jar, it appears as if Esther is fully aware of what is expected of her. She reads all of the books about her illness (Plath 153) and she knows when her mother disapproves of her actions (Plath 169), so it makes her mental illness and adversities harder for me, as the reader, to fully grasp. While I, in no way doubt the validity of the mental challenges Sylvia Plath may have faced in her life, I feel that her writing reflects her own struggle to understand the effect that mental health has on an individual, thus making it harder for her readers to understand.    

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