Book Review - The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

August 28, 2013

(When I was young I would spend my half term holidays at my Nana's house and she would take me to Waterstones in Bolton and buy me one or two books and then she would not hear a peep out of me all week. Clever lady.)

The past few years I've been really keen to read those famous classics you always hear so much about but never get round to reading them unless it was part of your school curriculum. I’ve always been curious about reading Sylvia Plath’s - The Bell Jar. So I did… 

It wasn't what I expected. I found it quite unnervingly honest and beautiful, it starts off quite girlish and simple but gets darker. Her writing opens a window into how women were restricted in the 50's and so she writes completely unrestricted with witty, dark humor. 

I related most to this quote -

'"I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet. ”

As young people we're often reminded how we have the world at our feet. My wonderfully supportive parents have brought me up to believe I can achieve anything I put my mind to. But with this amazing sense of freedom comes the fear of not fulfilling your dreams. It’s comforting to see Plath has the same fears of not knowing which direction to take in life. The most valuable thing I took from this quote is that I do not face the same restriction women did in the 50's. Although sexism is still alive today I'm thankful for the successful talented women who have paved the way for me to choose whatever career I want without having to compromise a family if I wish to have one. Nowadays I'd like to think we can at least attempt to have it all and that we needn't let all the figs 'wrinkle and go black'.
It may sound greedy but I want all the figs! Don't you?