Lit Circle Meeting #1: Date: March 2nd Read Pages: 30

I have read approximately 30 pages now, and I find the book quite interesting. I was the summarizer for today, and we've mostly been introduced to the protagonist, Esther Greenwood and her friend Doreen. Esther is a young woman who gains a summer internship at a magazine. She envies people who travel around the world, and hates people who take this for granted and who don't appreciate it. She's not as excited as you'd expect a young woman to be when she arrives in the big city with the glamorized lifestyle. She has plenty of money, and she lives in a hotel for girls only. Her friend, Doreen, talks her into joining a night out on the town, and there they meet the famous DJ, Lenny who invites them to his house.

Lit Circle Meeting #2: Date: March 7th Read Pages: 50

I have read what I was supposed to and I find the book rather boring. It’s difficult to keep up with the storyline because it constantly travels back and forth in time. I’ve also noticed that close to nothing has happened in this book so far. The book is written in a way that only explains what Esther is thinking, and focuses primarily on this, and not what she’s doing or what’s happening. I’ve noticed she’s very insecure, and she repeatedly criticizes herself. She has a boyfriend, Buddy, who she doesn’t really like and wants to break up with, but I think she stays with him because she wants to avoid having to go out on dates and such. Buddy has TB, which means she’s not seeing very much of him, but now he wants to marry her. She says no, and mentions she never wants to get married because she wants to stay independent and she despises the thought of having to cook meals and doing laundry all day. She shows her craving for independence in this sentence: “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 I all directions by myself like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket.”

Lit Circle Meeting #3: Date: March 9th Read Pages: 60

I was the researcher this time and I read up on the author and I discovered the book was inspired by her life. Sylvia Plath was suffering from mental deterioration, and her life is almost a parallel to the protagonist’s. I wrote this for my homework:

I’m researching the link between Sylvia Plath’s mental state and the content of the book. The Bell Jar was a semi-biographical story of her own struggle against the depression she was suffering from. She committed suicide in 1963. Her father died in 1940, and it’s told that she never got over it. She suffered from serious depression her entire life, and tried to commit suicide for the first time in 1953. She ended her life in 1963 by turning the gas on in the kitchen. It is obvious that The Bell Jar was inspired by her own life and the fact that she has lived through it makes the book more believable. She tried to kill herself once, and has had several visits to the hospital, both of which are described in The Bell Jar.

My opinion on the book remains the same as the last time I wrote something here. It’s kind of boring, but also intriguing to read about the mental issues of a young woman. The book itself is written in a way it’s very difficult to keep up with it. The constant gliding between time, without clearly distinguishing the present and past is very confusing, and it forces you to focus on the book more than I’m used to.

Lit Circle Meeting #4: Date: March 14th Read Pages: Book finished.

Aiiiiight, people! I was sick Wednesday, which led me to – unfortunately – missing the literary circle meeting. Anyways.. I’m done reading the book, and I’d have to say it’s not really the kind of book I’d read voluntarily. I liked the way she wrote certain sentences, and some quotes in the book got me thinking, but the content of the book was – in my opinion – weak and got boring in the long haul.

I was the Literary Luminary for this time, which means I’m supposed to highlight some quotes, which I mentioned above, was one of the things I liked about this book. First I’d like to take a look at this one:
“Wherever I sat – on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok – I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.”

I think this really explains the symbol of the Bell Jar. It also explains the way Esther Greenwood feels, and what the book is built up around. She’s saying she’s stuck, trapped inside herself. She feels like she’s on display for the entire world, vulnerable and exposed and she hates it. She also mentions that no matter how far she runs or what she does she’s never going to escape this “bell jar”.The bell jar is used as a metaphor for her disease.

Another quote that caught my attention and made me think twice about what it meant was: “To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream.”

This quotation comes from the last chapter of the novel, in which Esther attempts to draw some conclusions about the experiences she has gone through. Her mother says they should treat her disease like bad dreams she can forget, but as she mentions later she remembers everything, which she explains in another quite remarkable quote; “Maybe forgetfulness, like a kind snow, should numb and cover them. But they were a part of me. They were my landscape.” She’s explaining how it’s not possible to erase the memories because they’re a part of her.