Under The Bell Jar


-Watercolur, acrylic, and pen on watercolour paper.

I recently finished Sylvia Plath‘s The Bell Jar. I moved through it quickly, maybe in a couple of weeks. For me, books have always been a wonderful distraction. 

Last night I was on the exercise bike when an image bustled its way into my mind – I was stressed so I was trying to think about non stressful things. Anyways in the image, many people stood around with bell jars hanging over their heads.

Two quotes inspired this image: 


“Wherever I sat—on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok—I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.” -p. 196

Esther, the protagonist explains that her illness will follow her no matter where she is. This is what stirred me to paint the women all looking differently. The quote is accurate in the sense that mental illness can effect anyone, and once you are aware of that it is often hard to recover from it.


“To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream.” -p. 250

This reminded me that it is not only Esther that feels as if she has been ‘smothered’ by a bell jar. There are others that recognize the feeling of skewed perspective. Once the bell jar is covering you, you no longer breathe well circulated air. Therefore, you stop thinking as others do.

More about the process. 

The female silhouettes are actually stencils that I cut out. It was tricky applying them, as I didn’t have stencil paper or adhesive. But they worked out anyways!

The writing in the back is from The Bell Jar, of course. I could have used less writing, as it might appear a little cluttered.

The “I AM I AM I AM’s” are also from the novel. They represent the will that Esther’s body maintains in order to survive. In the context of this piece they represent something similar, if not the same. Even though the women have a bell jar hovering over them, their bodies remain alive. And so it is true of mental illness.



This entry was published on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 4:54 pm. It’s filed under Artwork and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Under The Bell Jar

  1. I love Sylvia Plath too, and your Blog for that matter

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: