Free Study Guide for The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath BookNotes|
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Back home with her mother, Esther faces a summer with nothing to do. She had been hoping to get into a writing seminar with a famous writing, but was rejected. She thinks of writing a novel, but cannot stick to it. Her mother urges her to learn shorthand, but Esther hates the idea of serving a man in any capacity. Esther becomes more and more depressed as the days go by. She stops sleeping and finds that she can neither read nor write. Her family doctor sends her to a psychiatrist who gives her outpatient shock therapy. The session is botched, traumatizing Esther and pushing her further into a search for a solution. She constantly thinks of suicide, fascinated with the sensational newspaper accounts of suicides, murders, and sex crimes. She can only read this kind of newspaper and books on abnormal psychology. She decides to commit suicide by slitting her wrists, but her thinking is so distorted by the lack of sleep that she keeps failing in her calculations of how to go about it. She goes to her old home town, where her family lived when her father was still alive. She visits his grave and realizes she never mourned his death. She weeps intensely over his grave. The next morning, she takes an overdose of sleeping pills and hides herself in a hole in her mother’s basement.
She wakes up in a hospital. She is severely physically damaged in a number of ways from the overdose and the days spent in the hole in the basement. She feels completely paranoid about the doctors in the hospital. Her mother manages to get her to a private hospital. Her benefactor is the same woman who sponsored her scholarship in college, a writer of romance fiction. In the private psychiatric hospital, she is treated by a competent woman doctor and gradually recovers. She undergoes insulin shock treatment and then electroshock treatment, this time, done properly and effectively. She learns how to deal with her issues around her mother and her issues around being a woman in a patriarchal society. When the new term for college begins, Esther is released from the hospital.
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. 09 May 2017