Friday, September 23, 2011

Madness & Other Musings

I didn't really expect this to be such a quick read. But then again, I should really learn from my experiences and start to overpack books rather than underpacking them "to save space" sucks to get caught bookless on a two hour commute.

The Bell Jar shocked me in how much I was able to relate to it, which as anyone who has read my thesis might have realized, I do perhaps too often with books about madwomen. Unlike many of the "mad" women who found their way into my thesis, however, Esther's problems seemed much closer to those things that I've been dealing with on a daily basis. What am I doing with my life? Furthermore, is that what I really want to or should be doing? Am I making sure to include the right people along the way? Was that decision that I just made (whether it's what type of coffee I just purchased, how I chose to spend my weekend, or that job I applied for) really the right choice? I'm really fascinated by the way these seemingly minor decisions an stand to drive a person crazy if they pile up too high.

I think, too, that another part of The Bell Jar I found really interesting was the way that Esther seemed to fall deeper and deeper into madness as the people around her became more accusatory. It begs the question that I came to again and again in my thesis: How relative is "madness," and how can we deem someone "mad" just based on our own ideas of sanity and "normal"?

"I felt very still and very empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo."


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  2. I think that one of the greatest things about The Bell Jar is that Esther is so universally relatable in a way that is common yet profound. She struggles through the day-to-day second guesses that we all encounter, doubting yourself in everything and wrestling with self esteem as a concept. I'm a little surprised, actually, that you hadn't read this until just recently, but it's a good time to pick it up. You're at a turning point in your life, and sometimes when you're trying to decide what your next step is going to be, you just need to remember that it's normal to have that feeling of uncertainty. That's the beauty of literature.

  3. I can't believe I hadn't gotten to it till now either. It's been sitting on my shelf forever. That's exactly how I felt though, that her problem was both universal and unique, and I think that's how we all feel most of the time. We recognize that our problems are universal to some extent, that we should "stop being so dramatic" because everybody goes through these things. But we also know in our hearts that our problems are unique in a way as well since we are each dealing with them in our own unique way.

    P.S. Thanks for tweeting this post!