Click here to Download The Bell Jar PDF Book by Sylvia Plath having PDF Size 1 MB and No of Pages 166.
It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. I’m stupid about executions. The idea of being electrocuted makes me sick, and that’s all there was to read about in the papers – goggle eyed headlines staring up at me on every street corner and at the fusty, peanut-smelling mouth of every subway. It had nothing to do with me, but I couldn’t help wondering what it would be like, being burned alive all along your nerves.
The Bell Jar PDF Book by Sylvia Plath
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|No of Pages||166|
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I thought it must be the worst thing in the world. New York was bad enough. By nine in the morning the fake, country-wet freshness that somehow seeped in overnight evaporated like the tail end of a sweet dream. Mirage-grey at the bottom of their granite canyons, the hot streets wavered in the sun, the car tops sizzled and glittered, and the dry, cindery dust blew into my eyes and down my throat.
I kept hearing about the Rosenbergs over the radio and at the office till I couldn’t get them out of my mind. It was like the first time I saw a cadaver. For weeks afterwards, the cadaver’s head – or what there was left of it – floated up behind my eggs and bacon at breakfast and behind the face of Buddy Willard, who was responsible for my seeing it in the first place, and pretty soon I felt as though I were carrying that cadaver’s head around with me on a string, like some black, noseless balloon stinking of vinegar.
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I knew something was wrong with me that summer, because all I could think about was the Rosenbergs and how stupid I’d been to buy all those uncomfortable, expensive clothes, hanging limp as fish in my closet, and how all the little successes I’d totted up so happily at college fizzled to nothing outside the slick marble and plate-glass fronts along Madison Avenue.
I was supposed to be having the time of my life. The Bell Jar PDF Book Download I was supposed to be the envy of thousands of other college girls just like me all over America who wanted nothing more than to be tripping about in those same size seven patent leather shoes I’d bought in Bloomingdale’s one lunch hour with a black patent leather belt and black patent leather pocket-book to match.
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And when my picture came out in the magazine the twelve of us were working on – drinking martinis in a skimpy, imitation silver-lamé bodice stuck on to a big, fat cloud of white tulle, on some Starlight Roof, in the company of several anonymous young men with all-American bone structures hired or loaned for the occasion – everybody would think I must be having a real whirl.
Look what can happen in this country, they’d say. The Bell Jar PDF Book Download A girl lives in some out-of-the-way town for nineteen years, so poor she can’t afford a magazine, and then she gets a scholarship to college and wins a prize here and a prize there and ends up steering New York like her own private car. Only I wasn’t steering anything, not even myself.
I just bumped from my hotel to work and to parties and from parties to my hotel and back to work like a numb trolley-bus. I guess I should have been excited the way most of the other girls were, but I couldn’t get myself to react. 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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There were twelve of us at the hotel. We had all won a fashion magazine contest, by writing essays and stories and poems and fashion blurbs, and as prizes they gave us jobs in New York for a month, expenses paid, The Bell Jar PDF Book and piles and piles of free bonuses, like ballet tickets and passes to fashion shows and hair stylings at a famous expensive salon and chances to meet successful people in the field of our desire and advice about what to do with our particular complexions.
I still have the make-up kit they gave me, fitted out for a person with brown eyes and brown hair: an oblong of brown mascara with a tiny brush, and a round basin of blue eyeshadow just big enough to dab the tip of your finger in, and three lipsticks ranging from red to pink, all cased in the same little gilt box with a mirror on one side.
I also have a white plastic sun-glasses case with coloured shells and sequins and a green plastic starfish sewed on to it. I realized we kept piling up these presents because it was as good as free advertising for the firms involved, but I couldn’t be cynical. The Bell Jar PDF Book I got such a kick out of all those free gifts showering on to us.
For a long time afterwards I hid them away, but later, when I was all right again, I brought them out, and I still have them around the house. I use the lipsticks now and then, and last week I cut the plastic starfish off the sunglasses case for the baby to play with. So there were twelve of us at the hotel, in the same wing on the same floor in single rooms, one after the other, and it reminded me of my dormitory at college.
It wasn’t a proper hotel – I mean a hotel where there are both men and women mixed about here and there on the same floor. This hotel – the Amazon – was for women only, and they were mostly girls my age with wealthy parents who wanted to be sure their daughters would be living where men couldn’t get at them and deceive them; and they were all going to posh secretarial schools like Katy Gibbs, The Bell Jar PDF where they had to wear hats and stockings and gloves to class, or they had just graduated from places like Katy Gibbs and were secretaries to executives and junior executives and simply hanging around in New York waiting to get married to some career man or other.
These girls looked awfully bored to me. I saw them on the sun-roof, yawning and painting their nails and trying to keep up their Bermuda tans, and they seemed bored as hell. I talked with one of them, and she was bored with yachts and bored with flying around in aeroplanes and bored with skiing in Switzerland at Christmas and bored with the men in Brazil.
Girls like that make me sick. I’m so jealous I can’t speak. Nineteen years, and I hadn’t been out of New England except for this trip to New York. The Bell Jar PDF It was my first big chance, but here I was, sitting back and letting it run through my fingers like so much water. I guess one of my troubles was Doreen. I’d never known a girl like Doreen before.
Doreen came from a society girls’ college down South and had bright white hair standing out in a cotton candy fluff round her head and blue eyes like transparent agate marbles, hard and polished and just about indestructible, and a mouth set in a sort of perpetual sneer. I don’t mean a nasty sneer, but an amused, mysterious sneer, as if all the people around her were pretty silly and she could tell some good jokes on them if she wanted to.
Doreen singled me out right away. She made me feel I was that much sharper than the others, and she really was wonderfully funny. She used to sit next to me at the conference table, and when the visiting celebrities were talking she’d whisper witty sarcastic remarks to me under her breath.
Her college was so fashion-conscious, she said, that all the girls had pocket-book covers made out of the same material as their dresses, so each time they changed their clothes they had a matching pocket-book. The Bell Jar PDF This kind of detail impressed me. It suggested a whole life of marvellous, elaborate decadence that attracted me like a magnet.
The only thing Doreen ever bawled me out about was bothering to get my assignments in by a deadline. ‘What are you sweating over that for?’ Doreen lounged on my bed in a peach silk dressing-gown, filing her long, nicotine-yellow nails with an emery board, while I typed up the draft of an interview with a best-selling novelist.
That was another thing – the rest of us had starched cotton summer nighties and quilted housecoats, or maybe terry-towel robes that doubled as beachcoats, but Doreen wore these full-length nylon and lace jobs you could half see through, and dressing-gowns the colour of sin, that stuck to her by some kind of electricity.
She had an interesting, slightly sweaty smell that reminded me of those scallopy leaves of sweet fern you break off and crush between your fingers for the musk of them. The Bell Jar PDF ‘You know old Jay Cee won’t give a damn if that story’s in tomorrow or Monday.’ Doreen lit a cigarette and let the smoke flare slowly from her nostrils so her eyes were veiled. ‘Jay Cee’s ugly as sin,’ Doreen went on coolly. ‘I bet that old husband of hers turns out all the lights before he gets near her or he’d puke otherwise.’ Jay Cee was my boss, and I liked her a lot, in spite of what Doreen said. She wasn’t one of the fashion magazine gushers with fake eyelashes and giddy jewellery.
Jay Cee had brains, so her plug-ugly looks didn’t seem to matter. She read a couple of languages and knew all the quality writers in the business. I tried to imagine Jay Cee out of her strict office suit and luncheon-duty hat and in bed with her fat husband, but I just couldn’t do it. I always had a terribly hard time trying to imagine people in bed together.
Jay Cee wanted to teach me something, all the old ladies I ever knew wanted to teach me something, but I suddenly didn’t think they had anything to teach me. The Bell Jar PDF I fitted the lid on my typewriter and clicked it shut. I noticed, in the routine way you notice the colour of somebody’s eyes, that Doreen’s breasts had popped out of her dress and were swinging out slightly like full brown melons as she circled belly-down on Lenny’s shoulder, thrashing her legs in the air and screeching, and then they both started to laugh and slow up, and Lenny was trying to bite Doreen’s hip through her skirt when I let myself out of the door before anything more could happen and managed to get downstairs by leaning with both hands on the banister and half sliding the whole way.
I didn’t realize Lenny’s place had been air-conditioned until I wavered out on to the pavement. The tropical, stale heat the sidewalks had been sucking up all day hit me in the face like a last insult. I didn’t know where in the world I was. For a minute I entertained the idea of taking a cab to the party after all, but decided against it because the dance might be over by now, and I didn’t feel like ending up in an empty barn of a ballroom strewn with confetti and cigarette-butts and crumpled cocktail napkins.
I walked carefully to the nearest street corner, brushing the wall of the buildings on my left with the tip of one finger to steady myself. I looked at the street sign. Then I took my New York street map out of my pocket-book. I was exactly forty-three blocks by five blocks away from my hotel.
Walking has never fazed me. I just set out in the right direction, counting the blocks under my breath, and when I walked into the lobby of the hotel I was perfectly sober and my feet only slightly swollen, but that was my own fault because I hadn’t bothered to wear any stockings. The lobby was empty except for a night clerk dozing in his lit booth among the key rings and the silent telephones.
I slid into the self-service elevator and pushed the button for my floor. The doors folded shut like a noiseless accordion. Then my ears went funny, and I noticed a big, smudgy-eyed Chinese woman staring idiotically into my face. The Bell Jar PDF It was only me, of course. I was appalled to see how wrinkled and used-up I looked. There wasn’t a soul in the hall. I let myself into my room. It was full of smoke.
At first I thought the smoke had materialized out of thin air as a sort of judgement, but then I remembered it was Doreen’s smoke and pushed the button that opened the window vent. They had the windows fixed so you couldn’t really open them and lean out, and for some reason this made me furious. By standing at the left side of the window and laying my cheek to the woodwork, I could see downtown to where the UN balanced itself in the dark, like a weird, green, Martian honeycomb.
I could see the moving red and white lights along the drive and the lights of the bridges whose names I didn’t know. The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence. I knew perfectly well the cars were making a noise, and the people in them and behind the lit windows of the buildings were making a noise, and the river was making a noise, but I couldn’t hear a thing. The city hung in my window, flat as a poster, glittering and blinking, but it might just as well not have been there at all, for all the good it did me.
The china-white bedside telephone could have connected me up with things, but there it sat, dumb as a death’s head. I tried to think of people I’d given my phone number to, so I could make a list of all the possible calls I might be about to receive, but all I could think of was that I’d given my phone number to Buddy Willard’s mother so she could give it to a simultaneous interpreter she knew at the UN. I let out a small, dry laugh.
I could imagine the sort of simultaneous interpreter Mrs Willard would introduce me to when all the time she wanted me to marry Buddy, who was taking the cure for TB somewhere in upper New York State. The Bell Jar PDF Buddy’s mother had even arranged for me to be given a job as a waitress at the TB sanatorium that summer so Buddy wouldn’t be lonely. She and Buddy couldn’t understand why I chose to go to New York City instead. The mirror over my bureau seemed slightly warped and much too silver.
The face in it looked like the reflection in a ball of dentist’s mercury. I thought of crawling in between the bed sheets and trying to sleep, but that appealed to me about as much as stuffing a dirty, scrawled-over letter into a fresh, clean envelope. I decided to take a hot bath. 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 Bell Jar PDF 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 ceilings over every bathtub I’ve stretched out in. I remember the texture of the ceilings and the cracks and the colours 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. I lay in that tub on the seventeenth floor of this hotel for-women-only, high up over the jazz and push of New York, for near on to an hour, and I felt myself growing pure again. I don’t believe in baptism or the waters of Jordan or anything like that, but I guess I feel about a hot bath the way those religious people feel about holy water.