Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sylvia Plath | The Bell Jar | 1963

Dear Philomena Guinea,

I would like to register a complaint. I hope that my formal tone doesn't give you the idea that I am joking. I am dead serious. Leaving aside the issue of whether or not Esther should have been prescribed ECT, or whether Dr. Nolan's views of mental illness were progressive or regressive -- I know, times change, and attitudes change -- I simply don't understand the terms under which you paid for her care. I get that you were once a young woman like her, and I guess that I understand your vested interest in her creative development, but for the life of me I cannot grasp why you would not have acted exactly the same had her breakdown been caused by a romantic entanglement rather than frustration over her writing. Let's look at this logically. In one case, say, there is a young woman who downs a number of sleeping pills because she cannot articulate the sadness that resides at the depth of her soul. In another, she downs those same pills because a boy, say, had intercourse with her and then told her friends that he did not care about her. Why is one of those women worthy of your beneficence and the other not? I have asked around, and a woman whose advice I value told me that it is precisely this myopia that makes you a "fascinating" and "conflicted" character, but I think it might just make you a capricious harridan. I object strenuously.