To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream.
This quotation comes from the last chapter of the novel, in which Esther attempts to draw some conclusions about the experiences she has undergone. Her mother suggests that they treat Esther’s madness as if it were a bad dream that can be forgotten. This quotation records Esther’s inward response; she feels that madness is like being trapped in a bad dream, but it is a bad dream from which one cannot awake. Esther likens the person who suffers from mental illness to the pickled fetuses she saw at Buddy’s medical school, a morbid connection that illustrates the terror of madness.