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. Readers who are familiar with Sylvia Plath's work may recognize this well-known quotation from her first and only novel, The Bell Jar, which tackles issues of depression, mental illness, and the search for individuality. This compelling volume examines Sylvia Plath's life and writings, with a specific look at key ideas related to The Bell Jar. A collection of twenty-three essays offers readers context and insight to discussions centering around the pervasive impact of illness, the novel as a search for personal identity, and the autobiographical nature of the work. The book also examines contemporary perspectives on depression, such as the sometimes deadly pressure of perfectionism on gifted teens, and the idea that depression and risk of suicide run in families.