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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

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Title: The Bell Jar.
Author: Sylvia Plath.
Genre: Fiction, literature, coming-of-age, mental health, drugs, psychology.
Country: U.S.
Language: English.
Publication Date: January 14th, 1963.
Summary: A novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity. Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under — maybe for the last time. Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche.

My rating: 8/10.


♥ Buddy Willard went to Yale, but now I thought of it, what was wrong with him was that he was stupid. Oh, he’d managed to get good marks all right, and to have an affair with some awful waitress on the Cape by the name of Gladys, but he didn’t have one speck of intuition. Doreen had intuition. Everything she said was like a secret voice speaking straight out of my own bones.

♥ I liked looking on at other people in crucial situations. If there was a road accident or a street fight or a baby pickled in a laboratory jar for me to look at, I’d stop and look so hard I never forgot it.

I certainly learned a lot of things I never would have learned otherwise this way, and even when they surprised me or made me sick I never let on, but pretended that’s the way I knew things were all the time.

♥ The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence.

♥ There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them. Whenever I’m sad I’m going to die, or so nervous I can’t sleep, or in love with somebody I won’t be seeing for a week, I slump down just so far and then I say: “I’ll go take a hot bath.”

♥ For the first time in my life, sitting there in the sound-proof heart of the UN building between Constantin who could play tennis as well as simultaneously interpret and the Russian girl who knew so many idioms, I felt dreadfully inadequate. The trouble was, I had been inadequate all I along, I simply hadn’t thought about it.

The one thing I was good at was winning scholarships and prizes, and that era was coming to an end.

I felt like a racehorse in a world without race-tracks or a champion college footballer suddenly confronted by Wall Street and a business suit, his days of glory shrunk to a little gold cup on his mantel with a date engraved on it like the date on a tombstone.

♥ That’s one of the reasons I never wanted to get married. The last thing I wanted was infinite security and to be the place an arrow shoots off from. I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the coloured arrows from a Fourth of July rocket.

♥ If Mrs Guinea had given me a ticket to Europe, or a round-the-world cruise, it wouldn’t have made one scrap of difference to me, because wherever I sat - on the deck of a ship or at the street caf in Paris of Bangkok - I would be sitting under the same bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.

Blue sky opened its dome above the river, and the river was dotted with sails. I readied myself, but immediately my mother and my brother each laid one hand on a door handle. The tyres hummed briefly over the grill of the bridge. Water, sails, blue sky and suspended gulls flashed by like an improbable postcard, and we were across.

I sank back in the grey, plush seat and closed my eyes. The air of the bell jar wadded round me and I couldn’t stir.

♥ Sometimes I wondered if I had made Joan up. Other times I wondered if she would continue to pop in at every crisis of my life to remind me of what I had been, and what I had been through, and carry on her own separate but similar crisis under my nose.

“I don’t see what women see in other women,” I’d told Doctor Nolan in my interview that noon. “What does a woman see in a woman that she can’t see in a man?”

Doctor Nolan paused. Then she said, “Tenderness.”

♥ “We’ll act as if all this were a bad dream.”

A bad dream.

To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream.

A bad dream.

I remembered everything.

I remembered the cadavers and Doreen and the story of the fig-tree and Marco’s diamond and the sailor on the Common and Doctor Gordon’s wall-eyed nurse and the broken thermometers and the negro with his two kinds of beans and the twenty pounds I gained on insulin and the rock that bulged between sky and sea like a grey skull.

Maybe forgetfulness, like a kind snow, should numb and cover them.

But they were part of me. They were my landscape.
Tags: 1960s - fiction, 1st-person narrative, 20th century - fiction, american - fiction, autobiographical fiction, bildungsroman, drugs (fiction), fiction, literature, mental health (fiction), psychology (fiction), suicide (fiction)
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