85+ Best The Bell Jar Quotes: Exclusive Selection

The Bell Jar is the only novel written by the American writer and poet Sylvia Plath. Originally published under the pseudonym “Victoria Lucas” in 1963, the novel is semi-autobiographical, with the names of places and people changed. Profoundly inspirational The Bell Jar quotes will fire up your brain and encourage you to look at life differently while making you laugh.

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Famous The Bell Jar Quotes

The trouble was, I had been inadequate all along, I simply hadnt thought about it. — The Bell Jar

Whenever Im sad Im going to die, or so nervous I cant sleep, or in love with somebody I wont be seeing for a week, I slump down just so far and then I say: Ill go take a hot bath. — The Bell Jar

I guess I should have reacted the way most of the other girls were, but I couldnt get myself to react. I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo. — The Bell Jar

Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above ones head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace. — The Bell Jar

My names Elly Higginbottom, I said. — Esther Greenwood

I saw the days of the year stretching ahead like a series of bright, white boxes, and separating one box from another was sleep, like a black shade. Only for me, the long perspective of shades that set off one box from the next day had suddenly snapped up, and I could see day after day after day glaring ahead of me like a white, broad, infinitely desolate avenue. — The Bell Jar

I decided to walk to the bus terminal and inquire about the fares to Chicago. Then I might go to the bank and withdraw precisely that amount which would not cause so much suspicion — The Bell Jar

But an English major who knew shorthand was something else again. Everybody would want her. She would be in demand among all the up-and-coming young men and she would transcribe thrilling letter after thrilling letter. The trouble was, I hated the idea of serving men in any way. I wanted to dictate my own thrilling letters. — The Bell Jar

Im not angry anymore. Before I was angry all the time — The Bell Jar

There was a uniformity, as if they had lain for a long time on a shelf, out of the sunlight, under siftings of pale, fine dust. – — The Bell Jar

I buried my head under the darkness of the pillow and pretended it was night. I couldnt see the point of getting up. I had nothing to look forward to. — The Bell Jar

When they asked me what I wanted to be I said I didnt know. Oh, sure you know, the photographer said. She wants, said Jay Cee wittily, to be everything. — The Bell Jar

I began to think vodka was my drink at last. It didnt taste like anything, but it went straight down into my stomach like a sword swallowers sword and made me feel powerful and godlike. — The Bell Jar

Ive got to get out of here, I told her meaningly. Then Id be all right. You got me in here, I said. You get me out. — The Bell Jar

Doctor Nolan said, quite bluntly, that a lot of people would treat me gingerly, or even avoid me, like a leper with a warning bell. My mothers face floated to mind, a pale reproachful moon, at her last and first visit to the asylum since my twentieth birthday. A daughter in an asylum! I had done that to her. — The Bell Jar

I had decided I would put off the novel until I had gone to Europe and had a lover. — The Bell Jar

So I began to think maybe it was true that when you were married and had children it was like being brainwashed, and afterward you went about as numb as a slave in a totalitarian state. — The Bell Jar

… I began to think maybe it was true that when you were married and had children it was like being brainwashed, and afterward you went about as numb as a slave in a totalitarian state. — The Bell Jar

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 shed whisper witty sarcastic remarks to me under her breath. — The Bell Jar

I would be sitting under the … bell jar, stewing in my own sour air. — Esther Greenwood

I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be shadow. — Esther Greenwood

The sickness rolled through me in great waves. After each wave it would fade away and leave me limp as a wet leaf and shivering all over and then I would feel it rising up in me again, and the glittering white torture chamber tiles under my feet and over my head and all four sides closed in and squeezed me to pieces. — The Bell Jar

The skin of my wrist looked so white and defenseless that I couldnt do it. — Esther Greenwood

I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest. — Esther Greenwood

I suppose you do — The Bell Jar

Hung, suspended, a few feet above my head. I was open to the circulating air. — The Bell Jar

To the person in , blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream. — The Bell Jar

I wondered why I couldnt go the whole way doing what I should any more. This made me sad and tired. Then I wondered why I couldnt go the whole way doing what I shouldnt, the way Doreen did, and this made me even sadder and more tired. — The Bell Jar

The bell jar hung, suspended … I was open to the circulating air. — Esther Greenwood

How did I know that someday — at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere – , with its stifling distortions, wouldnt descend again? — The Bell Jar

I would catch sight of some flawless man off in the distance, but as soon as he moved closer I immediately saw he wouldnt do at all. — The Bell Jar

It was my first big chance, but here I was, sitting back and letting it run through my fingers like so much water. — The Bell Jar

I wanted to crawl in between those black lines of print, the way you crawl through a fence, and go to sleep under that beautiful big green fig-tree. — The Bell Jar

There would be a black, six-foot-deep gap backed in the hard ground. That shadow would marry this shadow, and the peculiar yellowish soil of our locality seal the wound in the whiteness, and yet another snowfall erase the newness in Joans grave — The Bell Jar

There is something demoralizing about watching two people get more and more crazy about each other, especially when you are the only extra person in the room. Its like watching Paris from an express caboose heading in the opposite direction–every second the city gets smaller and smaller, only you feel its really you getting smaller and smaller and lonelier and lonelier, rushing away from all those lights and excitement at about a million miles an hour. — The Bell Jar

I didnt want my picture taken because I was going to cry. I didnt know why I was going to cry, but I knew that if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my eyes and the sobs would fly out of my throat and Id cry for a week. I could feel the tears brimming and sloshing in me like water in a glass that is unsteady and too full. — The Bell Jar

I am climbing to my freedom, freedom from fear, freedom from marrying the wrong person, like Buddy Willard, just because of sex, freedom from the Florence Crittenden Homes where all the poor girls go who should have been fitted out like me, because what they did, they would do anyway, regardless… — The Bell Jar

Do you know what a poem is, Esther? … A piece of dust. — Buddy Willard

I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be shadow, the million moving shapes and cul-de-sacs of shadow. There was shadow in bureau drawers and closets and suitcases, and shadow under houses and trees and stones, and shadow at the back of peoples eyes and smiles, and shadow, miles and miles and miles of it, on the night side of the earth. — The Bell Jar

If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then Im neurotic as hell. Ill be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days. — The Bell Jar

I had removed my patent leather shoes after a while, for they foundered badly in the sand. It pleased me to think they would be perched there on the silver log, pointing out to sea, like a sort of soul-compass, after I was dead. — The Bell Jar

It wasnt the shock treatment that struck me, so much as the bare-faced treachery of Dr. Nolan. I loved her. I had given her my trust on a platter and told her everything and she had promised, faithfully, to warn me ahead of time if ever I had to have another shock treatment , page — The Bell Jar

There would be a black, six-foot-deep gap backed in the hard ground. That shadow would marry this shadow, and the peculiar yellowish soil of our locality seal the wound in the whiteness, and yet another snowfall erase the newness in Joans grave. — The Bell Jar

What a man wants is is an arrow into the future and what a woman is is the place the arrow shoots off from. — The Bell Jar

There I went again, building up a glamorous picture of a man who would love me passionately the minute he met me, and all out of a few prosy nothings. — The Bell Jar

I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo. — The Bell Jar

After Doreen left, I wondered why I couldnt go the whole way doing what I should any more. This made me sad and tired. Then I wondered why I couldnt go the whole way doing what I shouldnt, the way Doreen did, and this made me even sadder and more tired. — The Bell Jar

Buddy kissed me again in front of the house steps, and the next fall, when his scholarship to medical school came through, I went there to see him instead of to Yale and it was there I found out that he had fooled me all those years and what a hypocrite he was. — The Bell Jar

Propaganda! — Doctor Nolan

Get out. Get the hell out and dont come back. — The Bell Jar

Thats one of the reasons I never wanted to get married. The last thing I wanted was infinite security and to be the place an arrow shoots off from. I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket. — The Bell Jar

I told him I believed in hell, and that certain people, like me, had to live in hell before they died, to make up for missing out on it after death, since they didnt believe in life after death, and what each person believed happened to him when he died. — The Bell Jar

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldnt quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldnt make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet. — The Bell Jar

There must be quite a few things a hot bath wont cure, but I dont know many of them. — The Bell Jar

I … listened to the … brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am. — Esther Greenwood

I wanted to tell her that if only something were wrong with my body it would be fine, I would rather have anything wrong with my body than something wrong with my head, but the idea seemed so involved and wearisome that I didnt say anything. I only burrowed down further in the bed. — The Bell Jar

There is nothing like puking with somebody to make you into old friends. — The Bell Jar

But youre all right now. — The Bell Jar

Then I knew what the trouble was. I needed experience. — Esther Greenwood

To the person in the bell jar … the world itself is the bad dream. — Esther Greenwood

Billy wrote that he was probably falling in love with a nurse who also had TB but his mother had rented a cottage in the Adirondacks for the months of July, and if I came along with her, he might well find his feeling for the nurse was mere infatuation. – — The Bell Jar

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 shed whisper witty sarcastic remarks to me under her breath. — The Bell Jar

The graveyard disappointed me. It lay at the outskirts of the town, on low ground, like a rubbish dump, and as I walked up and down the gravel paths. I could smell the stagnant salt marshes in the distance. — The Bell Jar

O Esther I wish you would cooperate. They say you dont cooperate. They say you wont talk to any of the doctors or make anything in Occupational therapy… — The Bell Jar

But when I took up my pen, my hand made big, jerky letters like those of a child, and the lines sloped down the page from left to right almost diagonally, as if they were loops of string lying on the paper, and someone had come along and blown them askew. — The Bell Jar

I didnt know why I was going to cry, but I knew that if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my eyes and the sobs would fly out of the throat and Id cry for a week. — The Bell Jar

Ever since Id learned about the corruption of Buddy Willard, my virginity weighed like a millstone around my neck. — The Bell Jar

If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed. — The Bell Jar

I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am. — The Bell Jar

I want to be important. By being different. And these girls are all the same. — The Bell Jar

Im so glad theyre going to die. — Hilda

I felt wise and cynical as all hell. — The Bell Jar

Show us how happy it makes you to write a poem. — The Bell Jar

Because 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. — The Bell Jar

I was supposed to be having the time of my life. — Esther Greenwood

I hate handing over money for what I could just as easily do myself, it makes me nervous. — The Bell Jar

Of course somebody had seduced Buddy, Buddy hadnt started it and it wasnt really his fault. — The Bell Jar

My mother said the cure for thinking too much about yourself was helping somebody who was worse off than you. — The Bell Jar

I felt like a race horse in a world without racetracks or a champion college footballer suddenly confronted by Wall Street and a business suit, his days of glory shrunk to a little gold cup on his mantel with a date engraved on it like a date on a tombstone. — The Bell Jar

I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, This is what it is to be happy. — The Bell Jar

I knew my baby wasnt like that…I knew youd decide to be all right again. — The Bell Jar

She was a fat middle-aged woman with dyed red hair and suspiciously thick lips and rat-colored skin and she wouldnt even turn off the light, so hed had her under a fly-spotted twenty-five-watt bulb, and it was nothing like it was cracked up to be. It was as boring as going to the toilet. — The Bell Jar

It was just like a man to do it with a gun. A fat chance I had of laying my hands on a gun. — The Bell Jar

The silence depressed me. It wasnt the silence of silence. It was my own silence. — The Bell Jar

There ought, I thought, to be a ritual for being born twice—patched, retreaded and approved for the road. — The Bell Jar

The floor seemed wonderfully solid. It was comforting to know I had fallen and could fall no farther. — The Bell Jar

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