Jean Paul Sartre’s Philosophical Writing
Jean Paul Sartre personally believed in the philosophical idea of existentialism, which is demonstrated in his play No Exit. His ideas of existentialism were profoundly outlined in the play. Based on the idea that mental torture is more agonizing than physical, No Exit leaves the reader with mixed emotions towards the importance of consequences for one’s acts.
Set in Hell, the vision of the underworld is nothing the characters imagined as they are escorted to a Second Empire styled hotel. This is all ironic, in the fact that Sartre never believed in perdition. He uses this fictitious place to persuade his audience. Hell is used as a foundation to prove his point. The characters, Garcin, Inez, and Estelle, are all brought together by some kind of complicated design that they try to unveil. Each character has a story and a reason for their damnation, but what they look for is an answer for their presence with each other. Garcin, a journalist and pacifist that took 12 to the chest, was the first to attempt to mend matters in the room. His idea to be courteous to one another is later contradicted when he begins to fight with Inez. Estelle, a self-absorbed instigator, appears to suffer from denial.
As these three people sit and argue about their past, their visions of life on earth are gradually fading. When they see how things are not going as they had hoped on earth, their frustration starts to fuel the fire that they sparked when they met. The presence of each person in the room is torturing the other. Sartre used this situation to prove that one’s consequences are not inevitable. We make our own design in our life, and we have freedom of choice and responsibility for the outcome of one’s acts. By putting these people in a hostile environment, Sartre relates his idea of existentialism.
Not only did these people die due to their malignant choices, but also they afflicted evil on other people. What is happening to them is what happened to the people that they killed. They are becoming the people of their pasts. Their weaknesses begin to show through, yet they can’t confide in one another. Instead they challenge each other, taking a stab at any hope of existence that they get.
At the end of the play, Sartre finds that there is no need for physical torture. If these people can cause that much pain on Earth, than evil must just come from them naturally. The only thing that Garcin needs to satisfy him is the proof of his existence. He needs someone to tell him that he’s not a coward., and that is the one thing that Estelle and Inez won’t give do. Garcin’s last words, “lets get on with it,” leave a sarcastic tone over the whole play. There is definitely uniqueness and isolation in each individual. The laugh that they shared about their future in purgatory at the end enlightened the meaning of the play. We should make note that people are entirely free and thus responsible for what they make of themselves.