i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

Bridget Jones Vs. Slyvia Plath

January 24, 2005

Um, yeah, so I'm really weird. I just wrote a paper attempting to compare my modern day literature hero - Bridget Jones with an ex-favorite literary character Ms. Esther Greenwood of Slyvia Plath's The Bell Jar. The thing is: if I were really feeling spunkier, I could make this work!

Maybe tomorrow, after I reteach myself Spanish. Hola! Soy Moreno y baja! Quiero vamos a mi casa, por favor! Despiertate tus pantalones ahora.

My paper, in progress, edited for your webpleasure:

P.S. Suggestions welcome! Comments on how much you love Bridget Jones are also welcome! Comments dissing Bridget Jones en espanol are not.* Hah. (* You'd be wasting your time anyhow. No read-o espanoloney.)

"There are elements of the ridiculous about you..." Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones' Diary

“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.’.” - Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar

Attempting to choose the work of literature that has most significantly impacted my life is like attempting to examine the peculiarities of a single snowflake whilst standing in the midst of a terrible blizzard. The sheer ridiculousness of such an idea is monumental, tantamount perhaps to the end scene of my latest favorite movie where Bridget Jones runs down the street in just her underwear, a cardigan, and a pair of sneakers to catch up with Mark Darcy, the proverbial love of her life. Only, when I think of literature that has impacted my life most significantly, I think not of Bridget Jones of the diary fame, but of Esther Greenwood, protaganist of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.

The similiarities between the two characters is one I had not considered before: both are young rather obscure (read: strange) women – one is chronically depressed, the other – chronically single. Both have problems with the gentlemen and both turn to outside influences for help – alcohol, spinster friends, hot baths, Chaka Khan, as the case may be. Each is beautiful but convinced that she isn’t; each has an overbearing mother and a strange ineptitude when it comes to social situations. (Strangely, both have rotten skiing experiences, which probably means absolutely nothing at all beyond the fact that it reinforces my belief that “cold sticky snow” and “going down hills really fast” do not mix.)

Should I mention the times that I have soaked in near boiling water, reddening my flesh, my white skin wrinkling as I read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar taking breaks from time to time to stare up at the ceiling just as Esther does in the hotel bathroom, studying the cracks and smudges and wondering just what it is about this book that makes me pull it off the bookshelf once or twice a year like clockwork to flip through its dog-eared pages.

I could describe the faded ragged look of the cover of a book that has been well-loved and well-read – spend a paragraph describing the way the cover is creased in places, missing a corner, bleached white at the top and the way that the spine is broken and etched with lines that want nothing more than to obscure the title.

I could psychoanalyze myself, pondering why it is if I love the book so well that I rarely seem to actually finish reading the story the whole way through – is it really because I know how it’s going to end or because I just can’t bear the thought of sweet Esther with electrodes taped to her head?

I could discuss how this well-worn copy of The Bell Jar, not even my first copy, has taken on a kind of dichotomy of its own: the first half the book bedraggled and water-marked, splotched with stains of coffee or wine, corners flipped to mark the places where the water got cold and I climbed out of the bathtub; the second half pristine, not a single fold past page 77 and the line, “Buddy put his hand on mine. “Let me fly with you” (Plath 77).

I could even mention how I’ve been reading the book over and over again since sometime in high school and how last time I read it, maybe six months ago, it just didn’t have the same … ompf that it did the last time around – Esther Greenwood just doesn’t do it for me anymore.

Does that mean that The Bell Jar is now crap somehow, irrelevant to the world at large? No. It just means that somehow, I’ve moved on.

Literature is composed of mileposts, markers designating the events of our lives. For me, Esther Greenwood in The Bell Jar is a pretty good indicator of the person I once was: insecure, slightly crazy, chronically self-absorbed, and so damn depressed that the only thing that seemed good in the world was a nice hot bath. And, well, not much has changed. …

Only that’s not the case at all. Oh, I’m still all of the above and much more, but now I’m someone more like Bridget Jones – slightly scatterbrained, kinda ditzy, and generally happy. That’s the primary difference between my two favorite characters – one is happy most of the time, the other wouldn’t know happy if it hit her on the head with a splat.

Esther and I, we go way back. There will always be a special place in my heart for Ms. Greenwood, just as I will always love the Moira I once was. When I see my well-worn copy of The Bell Jar sitting on my book shelf, right near my bed, just in case, I will always smile because only Esther and I know just how far in my life I have come.

And I’m certain, that in the darkest months of the year, when the sun seems millions of miles away, summer a distant memory scented with garden herbs and steaming ghosts of hot asphalt rainstorms…

When the dank gray areas of my heart threaten to overtake the rest of my life, dirty soldiers digging their trenches, I will run a hot bath scented with drops of lavender and I will climb into the water, inch by inch, clutching in my hand one of my oldest friends, a symbol, now, of growth and rebirth.

Moira at 11:06 PM :: Comments (7) :: « :: »

We can talk Bridget Jones any time, Moira. She is my favorite female character in a film.

Useless knowledge, I know, but I can recite entire scenes.

Posted by: Amanda at January 25, 2005 08:59 AM

OMG! And I thought it was just me! ;c) Yay! Fans of Bridget Unite! ;c) One of my friends makes fun of me all the time because of the astounding frequency of which BJD can be found in my DVD player. :c) Did you see the second one? What did you think?

Posted by: moira at January 25, 2005 10:40 AM

Alas, I have not, but they are showing it at SHU soon. I think we should round up a bunch of gals to watch it. I was sooo tempted to read the movie spoiler.

Posted by: Amanda at January 25, 2005 02:12 PM

I just read the spoiler and realized how different the movie is from the book. The original movie is definitely better but the new one is still a hoot. If I'm free when they show the movie on campus, I'm definitely down! Do you know when it is?

Posted by: moira at January 25, 2005 02:33 PM

I am also a Bridget Jones fan. I must say the books are so much better than the movies though...but isn't that always the case? I think they are showing the second BJ sometime in lat Feb. I missed it when it was in theaters, so I'll see you both there!

Posted by: Nessa at January 25, 2005 03:06 PM

Fabulous! We'll have a big crowd of Bridget fans (I started to write "BJ fans" then thought better of it.) So, Nessa, are you crafty?? ;c)

Posted by: moira at January 25, 2005 03:20 PM

Wonderfully crafty.

(Sorry, I abbreviated "Bridget Jones" in my earlier post. I don't know what came over me. Haha)

Posted by: Nessa at January 26, 2005 10:44 AM
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