How did I know that someday—at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere—the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn’t descend again?
This quotation, also from the last chapter of the novel, provides the final word on Esther’s supposed cure. The bell jar has lifted enough that Esther can function more or less normally. She has relinquished her desire to kill herself, and she begins to form tenuous connections with other people and with the outside world. But Esther still feels the bell jar hovering above her, and worries that it will trap her again. Her madness does not obey reason, and though she feels grateful to have escaped from it, she does not believe that this escape represents a fundamental or permanent change in her situation. If we read The Bell Jar as partly autobiographical, Plath’s own life story confirms that the bell jar can descend again. Just as the pressures that culminated in her late teens drove Plath to attempt suicide, the pressures that culminated in her early thirties drove her to commit suicide.