Consumed Media

Jun 2021

The Bell Jar

Things that stuck with me:

I was not expecting this book to be as funny as it was. While it is in part about Sylvia Plath's stuggles with mental health and how shitty it was to be a woman in the 50's (and still is), it is also the world through her eyes, and she makes a lot of light of that darkness. In many ways I see eye to eye with Esther, the pseudo-Plath protagonist, especially about how dreary the prospect of children seem, how much she wants to get out of life, and her perspective on the Doreens of the world. I felt a strong resonance with this quote, after she's been out partying with Doreen who is "cool", and adventurous, and ends up vomiting all over herself and passing out at the end of the night in a flair of self destruction, after having had Esther be dragged along, bored and saddened:

"I made a decision about Doreen that night. I decided I would watch her and listen to what she said, but deep down I would have nothing at all to do with her. Deep down, I would be loyal to Betsy and her innocent friends. It was Betsy I resembled at heart."

I feel that in many ways I feel similarly. I just recently went on a trip with S and H in which they only were on just such a different wavelength about what constituted fun and how hard they should push their body's limits to acheive it at the expense of hangovers, lack of sleep, and mental exhaustion. S had a mental breakdown over his ex girlfriend and H had is body shut down while we were rafting in a river. "Fun" shoudln't do those sorts of things to you in my opinion.

I also deeply resonated with Esther's want to do so much in life. Her fig tree, wanting to be everything, and her argument with Buddy about living in both the country and the city. I think this is a curse of youth, and will get better in time, but it weighs heavy on me right now.

Another that stood out, which was also quoted by Jia Tolentino in Trick Mirror:

"Once when I visited Buddy I found Mrs. Willard braiding a rug out of strips of wool from Mr. Willard’s old suits. She’d spent weeks on that rug, and I had admired the tweedy browns and greens and blues patterning the braid, but after Mrs. Willard was through, instead of hanging the rug on the wall the way I would have done, she put it down in place of her kitchen mat, and in a few days it was soiled and dull and indistinguishable from any mat you could buy for under a dollar in the five and ten. And I knew that in spite of all the roses and kisses and restaurant dinners a man showered on a woman before he married her, what he secretly wanted when the wedding service ended was for her to flatten out underneath his feet like Mrs. Willard’s kitchen mat."