This Is Their Jam: Playlists for 10 Iconic Fictional Characters

09/20/2013 10:00 AM |



Esther Greenwood from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar: Listen here.

Belle & Sebastian – “Women’s Realm”
Everything Esther loves and hates wrapped up in four and a half minutes: an aural representation of the lace-collared, paper-dolled world that she’s so unwilling to slip into and an exemplary piece of the work she one day hopes to produce as a writer who’s “lived, loved and says it well in good sentences.” Like Stuart Murdoch.

Joy Division – “Isolation”
The song’s brittleness echoes Esther’s psyche; both feel like they’re on the brink of collapse. Plus, there’s this line: “Mother, I tried, please believe me/I’m doing the best that I can.” Ian Curtis and Esther Greenwood would’ve gotten along real swell.

Johnny Cash – “Hurt”
The pinnacle of depressive songs, Cash takes Trent Reznor’s words and makes them almost still, like the stillness that occurs after spiraling into madness and hitting rock bottom&#8212the stillness of crawling into a cellar and taking nearly 50 sleeping pills.

Fiona Apple – “Sullen Girl”
If you squint into the distance and warp the space-time continuum, you can see Fiona and Esther hanging out together on Astor Place as 19-year-olds.

Parenthetical Girls – “For All the Final Girls”
It begins neurotic and pretty, not unlike Esther, but then, at the halfway mark, ruffles itself up like the dawn of a new day, suggesting a road to recovery, not unlike The Bell Jar‘s final scene.

– Lauren Beck