The Bell Jar & A Good Hot Bath

We here at Blogagaard have recently finished reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Honestly, we didn't know much about her previously except that she killed herself by sticking her head in an oven and was primarily a well known poet. The Bell Jar, however, is a work of "fiction" that by some accounts is pretty close to being creative non-fiction. It deals with a young college woman who is a real academic go-getter before a heavy depression suddenly descends upon her like a dark tornado. She describes her depression as being trapped beneath a glass bell jar:

“To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream.”

The narrator's depression leads her to being institutionalized and undergoing electroshock therapy, which happened to Plath herself in real life. She also tries to kill herself by crawling under the dark front porch of her own house and taking a large dose of sleeping pills (an especially haunting image, I feel, as it reminds one of a sick dog crawling somewhere dark to die).

But, on the positive side, Plath's heroine possess a sharp wit and enjoys a hot bath apparently as much as we do here at Blogagaard, who utilize them almost daily to refresh our own souls:

"There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them. Whenever I’m sad I’m going to die, or so nervous I can’t sleep, or in love with somebody I won’t be seeing for a week, I slump down just so far and then I say: “I’ll go take a hot bath.”

I meditate in the bath. The water needs to be very hot, so hot you can barely stand putting your foot in it. Then you lower yourself, inch by inch, till the water’s up to your neck.

I remember the ceiling over every bathtub I’ve stretched out in. I remember the texture of the ceilings and the cracks and the colors and the damp spots and the light fixtures. I remember the tubs, too: the antique griffin-legged tubs, and the modern coffin-shaped tubs, and the fancy pink marble tubs overlooking indoor lily ponds, and I remember the shapes and sizes of the water taps and the different sorts of soap holders.

I never feel so much myself as when I’m in a hot bath."


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