You are here

Mind Over Pop Culture: The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar, a 1963 novel by Sylvia Plath, is best known for being a semi-autobiographical work about the troubled life of the author. While it is definitely that, it’s also an interesting look at a peer support relationship, even if it never gets that title.

The Bell Jar follows the life of a young woman named Esther Greenwood. Esther is a clinical depressed young woman, unhappy with the choice in life to be a wife and mother or in a traditional female profession. She gets an endowment from an older author, Philomena Guinea, which allows her to take an internship at a magazine in New York City. Feeling isolated, she becomes friends with the other young women at the magazine but becomes depressed. After a suicide attempt, she is hospitalized and treated with electroconvulsive therapy and insulin injections. Eventually, she begins to get better, and the book ends with her interview to leave the hospital. Set against the trial and execution of the Rosenbergs and the beginning of the social changes in the ‘60s, the novel highlights the struggles she feels between what she wants and what society wants from her.

One of the conditions of Esther’s endowment is that she writes a letter to her benefactor Philomena. The older woman writes back, and the two become friends, sort of. Philomena is a successful writer who was also in a mental hospital near the beginning of her career, and she helps pay for a private hospital for Esther when she learns of the younger woman’s fear of being unable to write. This act of kindness allows the author to receive proper treatment. The older woman is a model for Esther, someone like her she can look up to. Despite not being a very vivid character in the book (Esther’s depression dims all of the characters), she a solidly positive influence throughout the novel.

What makes Philomena’s character so interesting is that she is based on a real person who was a positive influence in Plath’s life. Plath struggled with clinical depression her whole life, and attempted suicide numerous times before completing the act in 1963. Despite the fact that this illness could be a barrier to her, she earned a scholarship to Smith College, where she graduated with honors. She spent time in a hospital during her time there. Both her scholarship and her time at the hospital were paid for by Olive Higgins Prouty, a mentor to her throughout her life.

Prouty was an author herself, most famous for her five Vale novels, about a wealthy Boston family. The third of five books, called Now, Voyager, was adapted into a long running radio show and a successful movie starring Betty Davis. It is about a young woman who is hospitalized after a nervous breakdown, and through therapy, becomes a stronger woman who eventually mentors a young woman with issues of her own. This book made her very wealthy and she used her money to help young women attend college. When she learned about Sylvia’s illness, she used that money and influence to ensure she got the help and support she needed. While the two don’t seem to have been close, the influence of the older woman was undeniably helpful in Sylvia’s life. Prouty suffered a nervous breakdown herself as a young woman and was able to recovery. Using her illness to inform her treatment of Sylvia and to encourage the younger woman to continue her writing, Prouty is a beautiful early example of peer support.

I haven’t read Now, Voyager, but I plan to get as soon as possible. Despite having readThe Bell Jar in high school, there was no discussion of Olive Prouty and her influence on Sylvia Plath’s life. I wish there was more about their relationship, so we could know if it was closer to friendship than it seems to be, but even if it wasn’t, it’s a great example of how people with mental health conditions can help support other people with similar struggles. Even in the limited ways we see her in Plath’s novel, her influence on the younger woman is tremendous.

The Bell Jar is a great novel with an interesting insight in mental health and treatment in the late 1950s and early 1960s, as well as an interesting look at early feminism. It’s worth the read for the small, shining peer support alone. I highly recommend it.

 

Next week, we’ll take a look at one of Plath’s other influences, the movie adaptation of Mary Jane Ward’s The Snake Pit. Have you read The Bell Jar? What did you think of Esther’s relationship with her benefactor?

Comments

Sponsored burberry outlet online,burberry outlet,burberry,burberry handbags,burberry factory outlet,burberry sale sac louis vuitton,louis vuitton,louis vuitton pas cher,sac louis vuitton pas cher,louis vuitton france north face,the north face,north face pas cher,north face soldes,north face france nike air max,air max,air max pas cher,air max one,air max 90,air max france iphone 6 cases,iphone 6 case,iphone 5c cases,iphone 5s cases,iphone cases,iphone case,iphone 5 cases,iphone 4s cases,iphone 4 cases,ipad cases,ipad mini cases,ipad air cases,galaxy s5 cases,galaxy s4 cases,phone cases by air jordan,jordan pas cher,air jordan pas cher,nike air jordan,air jordan france coach purses,coach handbags,coach bags longchamp,sac longchamp,longchamps,longchamp pas cher,sac longchamp pas cher,longchamp pliage,longchamp soldes,sac longchamps,longchamp france supra shoes,supra,supra for sale ralph lauren,polo ralph lauren,ralph lauren outlet,ralph lauren italia,ralph lauren sito ufficiale the oakley sunglasses,oakley vault,oakley sunglasses cheap,oakleys,oakley.com,sunglasses outlet,cheap oakley,cheap oakley sunglasses,oakley outlet,cheap sunglasses,oakley prescription glasses,fake oakleys,oakley sunglasses outlet,oakley glasses,oakley store,fake oakley,oakley sale,cheap oakleys,discount oakley sunglasses canada goose,doudoune canada goose,canada goose pas cher air force,nike air force,air force 1,air force one,nike air force 1,nike air force one,air force one nike air max,nike air max,air max 2014,nike air max 2014,air max 90,airmax,air max 95,air max 2013,nike air max 90,nike air max 2013 karen millen,karen millen uk,karen millen dresses Jiangxi timberland boots,timberland shoes,timberland outlet moncler,moncler jackets,moncler outlet,moncler uk lululemon,lululemon canada,lululemon outlet canada,lululemon outlet online louboutin,chaussure louboutin,louboutin pas cher,chaussures louboutin,chaussure louboutin pas cher,louboutin france soccer shoes,nike mercurial Daily oakley sunglasses cheap,cheap oakley sunglasses,oakley sunglasses,oakley vault,oakleys,oakley.com,sunglasses outlet,cheap oakley,oakley outlet,cheap sunglasses,oakley prescription glasses,fake oakleys,oakley sunglasses outlet,oakley glasses,oakley store,fake oakley,oakley sale,cheap oakleys,discount oakley sunglasses michael kors,sac michael kors,michael kors pas cher,sac michael kors pas cher,michael kors france louboutin,louboutin outlet,louboutin outlet italia babyliss pro,babyliss nike huarache,nike huaraches,nike air huarache Archduke prada outlet,prada,prada handbags,prada sunglasses,prada shoes,prada bags asics,asics gel,asics running,asics running shoes,asics shoes,asics gel nimbus,asics gel kayano,asics gt wedding dresses,prom dresses,bridesmaid dresses,evening dresses,beach wedding dresses,cheap wedding dresses,homecoming dresses,prom dresses,wedding dresses nfl jerseys,jerseys,baseball jerseys,cheap jerseys,nba jerseys,hockey jerseys,basketball jerseys,jerseys from china,cheap nfl jerseys ray ban sunglasses outlet,ray ban sunglasses,ray ban,rayban,ray bans,ray ban outlet,ray-ban,raybans,ray ban wayfarer,ray-ban sunglasses,raybans.com,rayban sunglasses,cheap ray ban Dajiang vans shoes,vans outlet,vans store,star wars vans shoes,cheap vans,vans shoes outlet,white vans,black vans,red vans,vans star wars,vans sneakers,vans shoes outlet store,vans sale,cheap vans shoes valentino shoes,valentino,valentinos toms shoes,toms outlet,toms shoes outlet,toms.com,tom shoes converse shoes,converse,converse.com,converse sneakers,converse outlet montre pas cher,montre homme,montre femme forwarding hogan,hogan outlet,scarpe hogan,hogan sito ufficiale,hogan interactive north face outlet,north face,the north face,northface,north face jackets,north face jackets clearance,the north face outlet truereligionjeans louis vuitton,louis vuitton outlet online,louis vuitton outlet,louisvuitton.com,authentic louis vuitton,louis vuitton factory outlet,cheap louis vuitton burberry,sac burberry,burberry pas cher,sac burberry pas cher,burberry france network sac guess,guess pas cher,guess,guess collection,sac a main guess nike air max,air max,air max 2014,nike air max 2014,air max 90,airmax,air max 95,air max 2013,nike air max 90,nike air max 2013 juicy couture outlet,juicy couture,juicycouture.com chi flat iron,chi hair hollister,hollisterco,hollister clothing,hollister clothing store,hollister kids,hollister co news, chanel handbags,chanel bags,chanel sunglasses,chanel purses,chanel outlet michael kors outlet online sale,michael kors,kors outlet,michael kors outlet,michael kors handbags,michael kors outlet online,michael kors handbags clearance,michael kors purses,michaelkors.com,michael kors bags,michael kors shoes,michaelkors,cheap michael kors nike roshe run,roshe run,nike roshe,rosh run,roshe run pas cher,nike roshe france jimmy choo,jimmy choo shoes,jimmy choo outlet,jimmy choo handbags michael kors outlet online,michael kors,kors outlet,michael kors outlet,michael kors handbags,michael kors outlet online sale,michael kors handbags clearance,michael kors purses,michaelkors.com,michael kors bags,michael kors shoes,michaelkors,cheap michael kors the hermes,sac hermes,hermes pas cher,sac hermes pas cher jordan shoes,jordans,air jordan,jordan retro,jordan 11,jordan xx9,jordan 6,new jordans,air jordans,cheap jordans,retro jordans,jordan retro 11,jordan 5,air jordan 11,jordans for sale,jordan 4,jordan 1,jordan future,jordan 3,jordan 12,michael jordan shoes,air jordan shoes,air jordan retro nike free,nike free run,free running,free run,nike running vans,vans pas cher,vans soldes longchamp,longchamp handbags,longchamp outlet,longchamp bags,long champ eve north face,the north face,north face uk,north face jackets,north face outlet,northface ralph lauren,polo ralph lauren,ralph lauren pas cher,polo ralph lauren pas cher,ralph lauren france air max,nike air max polo ralph lauren outlet online,ralph lauren,polo ralph,polo ralph lauren,ralph lauren outlet,polo shirts,ralph lauren outlet online,polo ralph lauren outlet,ralphlauren.com,polo outlet,ralph lauren polo tiffany and co jewelry,tiffany and co outlet,tiffany and co,tiffany's,tiffanys,tiffany co,tiffany jewelry of reebok outlet,reebok,reebok skyscape,reebok shoes ray ban pas cher,ray ban,rayban,lunette ray ban pas cher louboutin,christian louboutin,red bottom shoes,louboutin shoes,red bottoms,louboutin outlet,christian louboutin shoes,christian louboutin outlet,red bottom shoes for women,louboutins louis vuitton outlet stores,louis vuitton outlet online,louis vuitton,louis vuitton outlet,louisvuitton.com,authentic louis vuitton,louis vuitton factory outlet,cheap louis vuitton tiffany and co jewelry,tiffany and co outlet,tiffany and co,tiffany's,tiffanys,tiffany co,tiffany jewelry the vanessa bruno,sac vanessa bruno,vanessa bruno sac,vanessa bruno pas cher,cabas vanessa bruno,sac vanessa bruno en solde,sac vanessa bruno pas cher giuseppe zanotti,giuseppe zanotti outlet moncler,doudoune moncler,moncler pas cher gucci,borse gucci,gucci sito ufficiale,gucci outlet instyler ionic styler,instyler eighth gucci outlet,gucci handbags,gucci belts,gucci shoes,gucci,gucci belt,gucci sunglasses,gucci bags,cheap gucci nike free,free run,nike free run,nike free pas cher,nike free run pas cher,nike free france ferragamo shoes,ferragamo,salvatore ferragamo,ferragamo belts,ferragamo belt,ferragamo outlet longchamp handbags,longchamp,longchamp outlet,longchamp bags,long champ moncler,moncler online shop session polo ralph lauren outlet,ralph lauren,polo ralph,polo ralph lauren,ralph lauren outlet,polo shirts,ralph lauren outlet online,polo ralph lauren outlet online,ralphlauren.com,polo outlet,ralph lauren polo louboutin outlet,louboutin,christian louboutin,red bottom shoes,louboutin shoes,red bottoms,christian louboutin shoes,christian louboutin outlet,red bottom shoes for women,louboutins moncler,moncler jackets,moncler outlet,moncler jackets on sale christian louboutin shoes,louboutin shoes,louboutin outlet,louboutin,christian louboutin,red bottom shoes,red bottoms,christian louboutin outlet,red bottom shoes for women,louboutins true religion jeans of kate spade handbags,kate spade,kate spade outlet,katespade hollister,abercrombie hollister,abercrombie,abercrombie fitch,hollister france,hollister pas cher,abercrombie and fitch,hollister pas cher mont blanc,montblanc,mont blanc pens prada handbags,prada,prada sunglasses,prada shoes,prada outlet,prada bags the ray ban,rayban,ray ban uk,ray bans,ray ban sunglasses,raybans,ray ban glasses michael kors outlet store,michael kors outlet,michael kors outlet online,michael kors,kors outlet,michael kors handbags,michael kors outlet online sale,michael kors handbags clearance,michael kors purses,michaelkors.com,michael kors bags,michael kors shoes,michaelkors,cheap michael kors beats by dre,dr dre,beats headphones,dre beats,beats by dr,beats by dr dre,beats audio,dr dre beats,dre headphones,beats by dre headphones,beats by dr. dre,cheap beats ghd,ghd hair,ghd hair straighteners,ghd straighteners canada goose,canada goose Fourth sac longchamp,longchamp,longchamps,longchamp pas cher,sac longchamp pas cher,longchamp pliage,longchamp soldes,sac longchamps,longchamp france air max,nike air max,air max 90,nike air max 90,air max 1 air max,nike air max kate spade outlet,kate spade,katespade,kate spade handbags louis vuitton handbags,vuitton handbags,louis vuitton bags,louis vuitton purses Plenary louis vuitton outlet online,louis vuitton,louis vuitton outlet,louisvuitton.com,authentic louis vuitton,louis vuitton factory outlet,cheap louis vuitton uggs on sale,ugg australia oakley pas cher,oakley,oakley soldes,lunette oakley pas cher,oakley france juicy couture,juicy couture outlet,juicycouture.com lancel Session baseball bats,softball bats,easton bats canada goose,canada goose roshe run,nike roshe,roshe runs,nike roshe run,nike roshes hollister,hollister uk,abercrombie,abercrombie fitch,abercrombie and fitch lacoste,polo lacoste,lacoste pas cher,lacoste.fr,lacoste soldes,survetement lacoste of insanity,insanity workout,insanity workout calendar,insanity calendar,insanity workout schedule hollister,abercrombie,hollister sito ufficiale,abercrombie italia,abercrombie and fitch,abercrombie outlet barbour,barbour jackets,leather jackets,barbour sale,barbour outlet,barbour uk,barbour coats,barbour clothing true religion jeans ugg boots,uggs outlet,ugg,uggs,ugg boots clearance,ugg australia,uggs on sale,uggs boots,ugg slippers the louis vuitton,sac louis vuitton,louis vuitton pas cher,sac louis vuitton pas cher,louis vuitton france herve leger,herve leger dresses lululemon outlet,lululemon,yoga pants,lulu lemon,lulu.com,lululemon.com mac cosmetics,m a c cosmetics,mac makeup,maccosmetics.com mulberry,mulberry handbags,mulberry outlet,mulberry bags,mulberry uk PLA longchamp outlet,longchamp,longchamp handbags,longchamp bags,long champ new balance pas cher,new balance,new balance femme canada goose,canada goose outlet,canada goose uk michael kors,michael kors uk,michael kors handbags,michael kors bags nike roshe,roshe run,nike roshe run,roshe runs Army tn pas cher,nike tn,nike tn pas cher,nike tn requin,tn requin,tn requin pas cher michael kors,michael kors canada,michael kors outlet,michael kors outlet canada timberland,timberland pas cher,chaussure timberland pas cher,timberland france air max,nike air max,air max pas cher,air max one,air max 90,air max france michael kors handbags,michael kors outlet,michael kors outlet online,michael kors,kors outlet,michael kors outlet online sale,michael kors handbags clearance,michael kors purses,michaelkors.com,michael kors bags,michael kors shoes,michaelkors,cheap michael kors adjusted canada goose sale,canada goose outlet,canada goose,canada goose jackets,canada goose parka,canada goose coats,cheap canada goose mcm handbags,mcm bags,mcm backpack,mcm outlet birkin bag,hermes belt,hermes handbags,hermes birkin,hermes bags,birkin bags nike blazer,blazer nike,nike blazer pas cher moncler,moncler outlet,moncler sito ufficiale the ralph lauren,ralph lauren uk,ralph lauren outlet,polo ralph lauren outlet rolex watches,replica watches,omega watches,rolex watches for sale,replica watches uk,fake rolex louis vuitton,louis vuitton bags,louis vuitton handbags,louis vuitton uk louis vuitton,borse louis vuitton,louis vuitton sito ufficiale,louis vuitton outlet ray ban sunglasses,ray ban sunglasses outlet,ray ban,rayban,ray bans,ray ban outlet,ray-ban,raybans,ray ban wayfarer,ray-ban sunglasses,raybans.com,rayban sunglasses,cheap ray ban number michael kors outlet,michael kors,kors outlet,michael kors handbags,michael kors outlet online,michael kors outlet online sale,michael kors handbags clearance,michael kors purses,michaelkors.com,michael kors bags,michael kors shoes,michaelkors,cheap michael kors wedding dresses,wedding dress,dresses for wedding,bride dresses,dresses for weddings,wedding dresses uk,cheap wedding dresses,vintage wedding dresses,monsoon wedding dresses,lace wedding dresses,wedding dresses for older brides,wedding dresses 2014 louis vuitton,louis vuitton canada,louis vuitton outlet,louis vuitton outlet online moncler,moncler outlet,moncler jackets,moncler jackets on sale coach factory outlet,coach factory,coach factory outlet online,coach factory online of celine handbags,celine bag,celine bags rolex watches,rolex,watches for men,watches for women,omega watches,replica watches,rolex watches for sale,rolex replica,rolex watch,cartier watches,rolex submariner,fake rolex,rolex replica watches,replica rolex burberry outlet online,burberry,burberry outlet,burberry handbags,burberry factory outlet,burberry sale bottega veneta,bottega,bottega veneta outlet canada goose outlet,canada goose jackets,canada goose,canada goose sale,canada goose parka,canada goose coats,cheap canada goose military nike shoes,nike outlet,nike factory,nike store,nike factory outlet,nike outlet store,cheap nike shoes,nike sneakers ugg pas cher,ugg soldes,bottes ugg,bottes ugg pas cher,ugg,ugg australia,uggs ray ban,rayban,occhiali ray ban abercrombie and fitch,abercrombie,abercrombie and fitch UK oakley sunglasses,cheap oakley sunglasses,oakley sunglasses cheap,oakley vault,oakleys,oakley.com,sunglasses outlet,cheap oakley,oakley outlet,cheap sunglasses,oakley prescription glasses,fake oakleys,oakley sunglasses outlet,oakley glasses,oakley store,fake oakley,oakley sale,cheap oakleys,discount oakley sunglasses and louis vuitton outlet,louis vuitton outlet online,louis vuitton,louisvuitton.com,authentic louis vuitton,louis vuitton factory outlet,cheap louis vuitton converse,scarpe converse,converse italia,converse sito ufficiale,converse all star vans,vans scarpe,vans italia nike air max,air max,air max 90,nike air max 90,air max 1 marc jacobs,marc by marc jacobs,marc jacobs handbags,marc jacobs outlet political abercrombie and fitch,abercrombie and,abercrombie,abercrombie kids,abercrombie fitch,abercrombie.com michael kors outlet,michael kors outlet online,michael kors,kors outlet,michael kors handbags,michael kors outlet online sale,michael kors handbags clearance,michael kors purses,michaelkors.com,michael kors bags,michael kors shoes,michaelkors,cheap michael kors ugg,uggs,uggs canada tory burch outlet,tory burch,tory burch handbags,tory burch shoes,tory burch sale,toryburch,tory burch sandals,toryburch.com,tory burch flip flops hollister,hollister canada,abercrombie and fitch,abercrombie,abercrombie and,abercrombie kids,af officers coach outlet,coach factory outlet,coach outlet store,coach factory,coach outlet store online,coach factory online,coach factory outlet online,coach outlet online coach outlet,coach factory,coach factory outlet,coach outlet store,coach outlet store online,coach factory online,coach factory outlet online,coach outlet online louboutin shoes,louboutin outlet,louboutin,christian louboutin,red bottom shoes,red bottoms,christian louboutin shoes,christian louboutin outlet,red bottom shoes for women,louboutins ugg,ugg australia,uggs,ugg pas cher,ugg soldes,bottes ugg,bottes ugg pas cher moncler,moncler . coach outlet store online,coach outlet store,coach outlet new balance shoes,new balance,balance shoes,new balance outlet,new balance store,new balance store locator,new balance shoes for women,joe's new balance outlet,newbalance,newbalance.com,new balance walking shoes converse pas cher,converse ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia parajumpers,parajumpers outlet canada goose,canada goose outlet,canada goose sale,canada goose jackets,canada goose parka,canada goose coats,cheap canada goose longchamp,longchamp bags,longchamp uk p90x,p90x3,p90x workout,p90x workout schedule,p90x workout sheets,p90x 3,p90x2 uggs outlet,ugg boots,ugg,uggs,ugg boots clearance,ugg australia,uggs on sale,uggs boots,ugg slippers soccer jerseys,soccer jersey,usa soccer jersey,football jerseys nike trainers,nike trainers uk nike free,free running,nike free run,nike free 5.0,free running 2,nike running shoes,nike free trainer,nike free trainer 5.0,free runs,free run 5.0 north face jackets,north face,the north face,northface,north face outlet,north face jackets clearance,the north face outlet ugg boots,uggs,ugg,ugg boots uk,ugg uk oakley,occhiali oakley,oakley italia canada goose,canada goose outlet

Hi there i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anyplace, when i read this paragraph i
thought i could also create comment due to this sensible piece
of writing.

my weblog :: right food

I couldn't resist commenting. Very well written!

my web-site: food plan

vgdevujm http://paydayloansbrd.com/ mobile loans fwJFY http://paydayloansbri.com/ payday loans WWGcRD http://paydayloansbrf.com/ payday loans no credit check 5473

qgohlnc http://2012paydayloans.net/ payday loans 2757 http://paydayloansnsa.com/ payday loans clWAz http://paydayloanshsc.com/ payday loans 5558

azvfmkka http://paydayloansbrj.com/ mobile loans 8162 http://paydayloansbrb.com/ payday loans 8368 http://paydayloansbrk.com/ payday loans 0413

buy valium online with visa little green pill valium - valium dosage and color

Pages

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

2000 N. Beauregard Street,
6th Floor Alexandria, VA 22311

Phone (703) 684.7722

Toll Free (800) 969.6642

Fax (703) 684.5968

Text Resize

-A +A

The links on this page may contain document data that requires additional software to open: