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The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar


by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar Chapter 12 Summary

  • Esther and her mother arrive at Dr. Gordon's hospital. Esther notices that all the patients seem numb.
  • Dr. Gordon escorts Esther to a room. On the way they pass by a nurse restraining a woman who keeps shouting that she's going to jump out the window.
  • The same nurse joins Esther and Dr, Gordon in their room. Dr. Gordon and the nurse attach some wires to Esther's head.
  • Esther feels the electric current moving through her. It's horrifying.
  • Afterwards, she's reminded of the time she was electrocuted when she attempted to move her father's lamp. Dr. Gordon comes in and asks her what college she goes to – again.
  • Esther's mother picks her up. Dr. Gordon tells her Esther will need more treatments. Esther refuses, but her mother views her refusal as a sign that Esther feels much better.
  • Later one morning, thinking of all the people who've said she wouldn't amount to anything, Esther slashes her leg with a razor blade, just to see if she can manage suicide. But then she decides that she won't bleed enough before her mother gets home, so she bandages herself up and takes the bus into Boston.
  • In Boston, she catches a bus to the Deer Island prison, which is in her old hometown. There, she hangs out on the beach, thinking about drowning herself in the ocean.
  • She chats with the Deer Island guard and some beach-goers.
  • Finally, at dusk, she dips a foot in the water, but the water's too cold and she can't go through with her suicide.

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