Book Summary of The Bell Jar: Esther Greenwood, a Massachusetts college student, travels to New York for a month to serve as a guest editor on a magazine. Jay Cee, a kind but demanding lady, is her boss. In a women’s motel, Esther and eleven other college girls dwell. Their trip’s sponsors treat them to drink and dine as well as gifts. Esther is aware that she should be enjoying the time of her life, but she is uninterested. She is concerned about Rosenberg’s execution. And she cannot accept either her friend Doreen’s rebellious attitude or her friend Betsy’s cheery conformism.
The Bell Jar Continues
After a beautiful supper, Esther and the other girls get food illness. Esther tries to lose her virginity with a United Nations interpreter, but he is disinterested. She doubts her ability and is concerned about what she will do after graduation. She has a horrible blind date with a man named Marco on her last night in town, who tries to rape her.
Esther is undecided about whether she should marry and live a traditional family life or pursue her dream. Buddy Willard, her college lover, is suffering from TB in a sanatorium and intends to marry Esther once he recovers. Buddy looks to be the ideal companion from the outside: he is attractive, polite, clever, and ambitious. But he doesn’t understand Esther’s ambition to compose poetry. Later when he admits to sleeping with a waitress while dating Esther, Esther feels he’s a hypocrite and refuses to marry him. Leading her to go to lose her virginity as though she’s looking for the solution to a big question.
When Esther returns to the Boston suburbs, she learns that she has been rejected from a writing class she had hoped to enroll in. Instead, she will spend the summer with her mother. She has hazy intentions to write a novel, learn shorthand, and get her senior thesis started. Esther soon discovers that the emotions of unreality she had in New York have taken over her life. She can’t read, write, or sleep, and she doesn’t bathe. Esther’s mother takes her to see Dr. Gordon, a psychiatrist who recommends electric shock therapy.
Esther’s Suicide Attempts
After this terrible therapy, Esther becomes more unstable than ever. Leading her to choose to commit herself. Esther tries to slit her wrists but can only manage to slice her leg instead. She tries to hang herself, but in her low-ceilinged home, she can’t find a spot to attach the rope. She tries to drown herself at the beach with pals, but she just floats to the top of the sea. Ultimately, she hides in a crawl area in the basement and takes a hefty dose of sleeping pills.
Esther finds herself in the hospital when she wakes up. She did not sustain any serious bodily harm as a result of her suicide attempt. She is admitted to the city hospital’s psych unit once her body recovers. There she is obstinate, paranoid, and desperate to terminate her life. Philomena Guinea, a well-known author who sponsored Esther’s college scholarship, eventually pays for Esther’s transfer to a luxury hospital. Esther starts to embrace her new psychiatrist, Dr. Nolan, in this more sophisticated setting. With a mix of conversation therapy, insulin injections, and appropriately given electric shock therapy, she gradually improves. Joan, a lady from her childhood and college who has experienced similar experiences to Esther, becomes her friend. When Joan attempts a sexual approach at her, she is repulsed.
A Glimpse of Esther’s Start of Happiness
As Esther’s condition improves, hospital administrators allow her to leave the facility on occasion. She ultimately loses her virginity with a math teacher called Irwin on one of these outings. She begins to bleed excessively and is sent to the hospital’s emergency room. Joan, who appeared to be doing better, hanged herself one morning. Buddy pays Esther a visit, and they both realize their love is gone. Esther will be released from the mental institution in time for the start of the wintertime semester at college. She feels she has reclaimed a semblance of normality, but she is aware that the bell jar of her craziness might erupt at any moment.