Summary of the Bell Jar

Summary of the Bell Jar

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Esther Greenwood, a college student from Massachusetts, traveled to New York to work on a magazine for a month as a guest editor. Esther knows she should be having the time of her life, but she feels like she is in a living nightmare. The execution of the Rosenbergs worries her, and this is what triggers the bell jar closing in on Esther and covering her view on life. When she goes home, she finds that she is in more of a nightmare. She tries to cut her wrists, but cannot. She tries to hang herself, but cannot find a place to hang the rope. In a desperate attempt to end her life she takes a large amount of sleeping pills and hides in a crawl space in her basement. But, she survives and awakes in a hospital. She remains uncooperative until Philomena Guinea, a wealthy woman who also gave Esther her college scholarship, pays for Esther to go into a private hospital. Esther improves slowly, she also meets Joan, who is a lesbian. When Esther finds out Joan’s sexuality, she finds Joan to be repulsive. Joan seems to be improving like Esther, but she commits suicide. Esther left the mental hospital in time to start the winter semester at college. She believed that she had regained a grasp on sanity, but knows that the bell jar of her madness could descend again at any time.

Esther Greenwood is the protagonist and narrator of The Bell Jar. I find her extremely unique because of her view on life, the way that she thinks of people and how life works is very curious. Esther feels as if no one in the world understands her and is very selfish. During most of the book, no matter where Esther goes, she exists in the hell of her own mind. She seemed trapped inside herself, with no external existence, no matter how new and exciting, nothing could change how she felt.

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The bell jar separated her from people that she should have cared about. I find that in her saying “To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream.” she summed up her personality during the whole book. Madness is like being trapped in a bad dream but a bad dream where she cannot awake.
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