The Bell Jar
Sylvia Plath
Contributed by Bobbie Heil
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Chapter Summaries
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Chapter Summaries Table
Chapter Summary
Chapter 1

The novel is written exclusively in first-person and in the past tense, as by someone older reflecting back on her life. It begins by commenting on...

Chapter 2

Once she gets to Lenny’s place, Esther is glad she decided to come; his place has the craziest décor she’s ever seen: it looked just like the ...

Chapter 3

All the girls have been invited to a luncheon sponsored by the magazine Ladies’ Day. In the first paragraph of this chapter, the narrator describ...

Chapter 4

Esther can’t understand why these events keep going through her head as she’s talking to Jay Cee, but they do. All the time Jay Cee was talking...

Chapter 5

At seven the next morning the phone rings. It’s the simultaneous interpreter Mrs. Willard had told her about, and his name is Constantin. Esther ...

Chapter 6

She kept begging Buddy to show her interesting things at the hospital, and finally he agreed; one Friday she cuts all her classes and goes to visit...

Chapter 7

Esther finds Constantin, the simultaneous interpreter, much too short but overall finds him attractive. And he’s clearly not American, because he...

Chapter 8

She remembers back to the day after the previous Christmas, when Mr. Willard drove her up to the Adirondacks to visit Buddy. She was depressed, lik...

Chapter 9

The scene switches back to the present in New York. Esther is talking to Hilda, the hat girl, who informs her she is glad the Rosenbergs are going ...

Chapter 10

The next morning she has to trade her bathrobe to Betsy for some clothes, as she didn’t remember to save any to wear. Of course, the clothes are ...

Chapter 11

Esther is in the waiting room at the psychiatrist’s office. The room, decorated all in beiges and plants, feels very safe to Esther. She realizes...

Chapter 12

When they arrive at Dr. Gordon’s hospital, Esther is bothered that everything there looks so normal, since she’s sure the place is filled with ...

Chapter 13

Esther is arguing with a guy named Cal, who Jody has set her up with. They’re lying on a beach while Jody and her boyfriend swim. They’re argui...

Chapter 14

She half-wakes up, feeling only the dark. The silence is palpable; she feels a cool wind, and as if she was being transported down a tunnel in the ...

Chapter 15

It turns out Mrs. Guinea, the founder of the scholarship she was on at college, saw an article about Esther in the paper and telegrammed her mother...

Chapter 16

It occurs to her that Joan had had herself admitted simply as a joke on Esther. She asks Joan how she got there. Joan says she had read about Esthe...

Chapter 17

One morning she’s informed by a nurse she’s being moved to Belsize, apparently another step up. She panics - she thinks she’s not ready to mo...

Chapter 18

Esther wakes up disoriented, but feeling deeply rested. Doctor Nolan is there and immediately leads her outside into the fresh air, and Esther feel...

Chapter 19

Esther is back at the asylum, talking to Joan, who has declared she’s going to become a psychiatrist. Esther thinks this is pretty ridiculous, bu...

Chapter 20

In a week, if Esther passes her review before the board, she would be heading back to school in Philomena Guinea’s car. She looks at the snow pil...

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