A fantastic peak into the early life of the poet Sylvia Plath, one of the most courageous women I unfortunately never had the pleasure of meeting. The Bell Jar's uncanny resemblance to Plath's real life bought her some trouble with the friends and family who recognized their fictionalized counterparts (mostly because they weren't informed of their inclusion in this particular project), which makes this even more of a heartbreaking story. Esther Greenwood mirrors Plath's talent and ambition... as well as her deeply-rooted depression, hospitalization, and shock therapy. One of the Plath's greatest strengths is her ability to effectively share her inner confusion without losing our attention. Such a GREAT read from a phenomenal woman. — Jess Hanlon
An eerie story of a girls seemingly unstoppable decent into madness. What begins as a fluid poetic coming of age story turns into a jagged and misshaped series of events as the character becomes more and more ill, then is back to fluidity as she resurfaces. Comparing her feeling of disconnect to being under a bell jar, the story gives a voice to those who have struggled with their mental health. Honest and heartbreaking look at the country's mid-century mental illness struggle. — Molly Halpin
"McDormand gives a sensitive, intimate performance. Herdry, ironic tone, covering up for an undercurrent of fear, perfectly capturesthe character of Esther."-Billboard Magazine
The Bell Jar is a classic of American literature, with over two million copies sold in this country. This extraordinary work chronicles the crackup of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, successful -- but slowly going under, and maybe for the last time. Step by careful step, Sylvia Plath takes us with Esther through a painful month in New York as a contest-winning junior editor on a magazine, her increasingly strained relationships with her mother and the boy she dated in college, and eventually, devastatingly, into the madness itself. The reader is drawn into her breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies.
Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is rare in any novel. It points to the fact that The Bell Jar is a largely autobiographical work about Plath's own summer of 1953, when she was a guest editor at Mademoiselle and went through a breakdown. It reveals so much about the sources of Sylvia Plath's own tragedy that its publication was considered a landmark in literature.