“Hundreds of People Like Me”: A Search for a Mad Community in The Bell Jar

  • Rose Miyatsu
Part of the Literary Disability Studies book series (LIDIST)


This chapter examines how Sylvia Plath’s asylum novel The Bell Jar imagines what a community of people who identify as mentally ill might look like, and who gets left behind when “getting better” is privileged. Most current criticism on The Bell Jar examines Esther’s search for identity as either a woman or a writer, overlooking the fact that while Esther is searching for female role models, she is also searching for identity and community as a person with an enduring mental illness. Although the cure-focused hierarchical structure of the asylum dampens Esther’s attempts at forming lasting bonds there, the relationships she does form influence how she sees herself and others, and encourages her to at least imagine a community that could incorporate mental distress.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rose Miyatsu
    • 1
  1. 1.Washington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA

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