The Bell Jar: Mental Illness

As somebody who has never had or experienced a mental illness before, I can say that Sylvia Plath did an astonishing job in describing through Esther Greenwood , what it is like to deal with such an illness. As I was reading “The Bell Jar”, I had no prior knowledge about Sylvia Plath’s life. But getting to know about Plath and how she herself had actually experienced mental illness, my perspective of the novel completely changed. I started to read the novel as if it were almost a biography of Plath’s life, because of how similar Plath and Greenwood were.

I became more affected by this novel after getting to know about Plath’s life and the struggles that she had experienced. I started to feel bad for Plath as I was reading “The Bell Jar”, because I could almost see Plath through Greenwood. Plath’s writing is very unique in a sense that you can almost feel what she is saying. She is very discriptive and it helped to visualize and imagine what was happening in a particular scene which was utterly mind-blowing. This gave me a better insight on what it could be like to deal with a mental illness, specifically about depression, and from reading “The Bell Jar” I can say that it is hard

Throughout the novel, my biggest worry and thought was that “Esther was going to kill herself”. It worried me so much because now that I knew that Plath had killed herself, it almost seemed like this was Plath’s way of telling people that she was going to kill herself through “The Bell Jar”. But that was not the case at all, since at the end of the novel, Esther Greenwood does not actually kill herself. Esther recieved help, which is why it was sad for me to read the novel because now I knew that Plath had committed suicide.

Given the time period this novel was published, it is safe to say that back then, people knew very little about mental illness compared to today’s society. Which is why this novel is so interesting, because it gives an insight to what it was like to deal with a mentail illness in that time period. People with mental illness back then were treated much differently than people with mental illness are treated today. If back then, mental illness was treated the same as today, Plath would probably live a much better life and would recieve all the help that she can get. Overall, Plath did an astounding job for cultural and historical evidence. Although Plath’s novel could be dated in a way, it is still very relatable to many people; which is why it is still a popular read. Plath is a unique author and is the reason why I respect her so much.



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