Book Summary: The Bell Jar

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A college student from Massachusetts named Esther Greenwood, travels to New York to work on a magazine for a month as a guest editor. Esther and eleven other girls reside in a woman’s hotel while she is in New York. The sponsors of their trip constantly shower them with presents. Esther knows she should be having the time of her life, but she feels hopelessly depressed inside. The execution of the Rosenberg’s has her greatly troubled, and she often feels as if she cannot act as the other ladies staying at the hotel do. Her misfortunes involving relationships have led her to the point where Esther considers not getting married at all, and instead following her ambitions. Esther returns to the Boston suburbs and finds out that she has not been accepted to a writing course she had planned to take. She spends the summer with her mother instead. Soon the feelings of unreality she experienced in New York begin taking over her life. Esther stops bathing, and is unable to read, write, or sleep. Her mother takes her to a psychiatrist who prescribes electric shock therapy. Ironically the treatment only made Esther worse. She makes several suicide attempts before she awakens in the hospital from overdosing on her mother’s sleeping medication. After a uncomfortable experience at the psychological ward in the city hospital, Esther is moved to a private hospital. With the help of Dr. Nolan, talk therapy, insulin injections, and properly administered electric shock therapy, Esther’s condition improves. She will leave the hospital in time to start winter semester at college. Esther believes that she has regained a fragile grip on sanity, but she knows that the bell jar of her madness could descend again at any time.
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