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➼ No Exit and Three Other Plays Free ➲ Author Jean-Paul Sartre –

I guess I m in the midst of an existential questioning Then I picked upNo Exit and Three Other Plays, and it became a full blown crisis I would walk to my neighbor and ask him, Do you think I m useless Am I a bad person What do I stand for What is the purpose of all this Poor guy.So this is hell I d never have believed it You remember all we were told about the torture chambers, the fire and brimstone, the burning marl Old wives tales There s no need for red hot pokers Hell is other people from No Exit 45 This is the most famous of the three plays and for good reason It played into my deepest fears trapped in a room with strangers who will analyze my life and irritate me with their little tics The three main characters are stripped bare of all their validations for their actions.I am 31 years old, and I have never felt the need to confess my sins so badly in my life.Love or hatred calls for self surrender.from The Flies 87 88 It s been a long time since I read the Oresteia, so long that The Flies may as well be new to me I knew what happens to Agamemnon when he returns from Troy, but The Flies concerns the aftermath The citizens of Argos are literally covered in their sin Zeus has sent swarms of flies to torment them for their rulers crime view spoiler In the end, Orestes takes on the sins, the flies, like the Pied Piper or, accurately, a scapegoat, and leaves the town hide spoiler Sartre has very good ideas I love reading Theatre of the Absurd Existence precedes essence Three damned souls are brought to hell by a mysterious valet, but it s not what they expected Sartre depicts hell as a Second Empire style room in bad taste, not fire and torture devices I love this idea Garcin, Inez, and Estelle torture each other with judgement since they have nothing in common, and they are unlikeable Hell is other people means that judgement is eternal punishment I found it very thought provoking that Sartre s hell did not have any mirrors, because of the characters existence The Flies is about Orestes and Electra Zeus is the god of death and flies, and I found that to be really funny, in a dark way Once a year the dead come and torment those who are guilty My favorite play in this book was Les Mains Sales because it was so riveting, and it is about an intellectual bourgeois, Hugo, who assassinates a political leader This play is much longer than any of the others, but it is very well written, and I kept reading with great interest I found these plays stimulating. In These Four Plays, Jean Paul Sartre, The Great Existentialist Novelist And Philosopher, Displays His Mastery Of Drama NO EXIT Is An Unforgettable Portrayal Of Hell THE FLIES Is A Modern Reworking Of The Electra Orestes Story DIRTY HANDS Is About A Young Intellectual Torn Between Theory And Praxis THE RESPECTFUL PROSTITUTE Is An Attack On American Racism Hell is other people What if hell is not an inferno but being trapped in a room with people who judge and condemn you In Sartre s play No Exit, three condemned souls must stay with each other for all eternity, watching, condemning, torturing one another Garcin seeks understanding from Inez for deserting the army but only receives her judgment Estelle, who killed her newborn baby and caused her lover to commit suicide, seeks Garcin s affection to define who she is, but only receives his snub Inez tries to seduce Estelle, but only scares the latter They seek redemption through others but only receive condemnation For Sartre, that is the picture of hell, and hell exists not in the afterlife but here in this life Jean Paul SartreThe most poignant moment in the play is when the door is opened, but Garcin doesn t leave the room to escape his hell He remains to persuade Inez to accept his cowardice, his betrayal of his country and his wife This is Sartre s vision of the contemporary person, unable or perhaps unwilling to escape his hell for fear of taking on the responsibility of defining his own person As Erich Fromm has said, freedom can be frightening when we have to accept the responsibilities associated with that freedom Ultimately, for Sartre, hell is when others, friends and family, career and leisure, society and culture, religion and government, define who we are Jean Paul Sartre and Simone deBeauvoir For me, this little collection gets by purely on the strength of the title play alone No Exit is a terrific little work The concept is clever and simple, and the execution first rate And in addition to being impressed by Sartre s abilities as a playwright, I was also surprised that the message wasn t the vague banality I had expected it to be As everyone knows, this play ends with a punchline hell is other people Now, I had expected this to mean simply that being around other people is awful which pleased the misanthrope in me However, it doesn t take a philosopher to reach the insight that other people can make life a hell further, it seems obviously untrue, if taken as a general statement I quite like a lot of people well, maybe only a few , and I know that Sartre did too But that isn t the message Rather, Sartre s point is that people give up their freedom which, for Sartre, is the be all and end all of the human condition when they evaluate themselves through the eyes of others All three of the characters in that room need to be seen in some way Garcin, as a hero Estelle, as a woman capable of attracting men s attention and In s, as someone capable of manipulating others specifically, attractive women And it being hell they are grouped together in such a way that none of them can look at each other in the correct way In s sees Garcin as a coward Garcin is unmoved by Estelle s advances and Estelle is immune to In s s charms Well to say it once I thought it was brilliant But I must say that I had a much lower opinion of the other plays in this collection and the whiner in me can t resist saying a few things about them, too The Flies does not come close to the heights reached by No Exit, but I thought it still enjoyable It was certainly interesting to see an existentialist philosopher reimagine a Greek myth, and Sartre manages to add some nice touches the guilt based society, the petty Zeus, the tortured Aegisthus Nonetheless, I was unimpressed by the overall effect This, by the way, is the general problem with thinkers writing fiction the endings are predictable once the thinkers ideas are understood Sartre makes Orestes into an bermensch, who takes the full existential weight of the responsibility of his choices upon his shoulders, thus freeing himself from the externally imposed morality of Zeus In other words, Sartre offers us watered down Nietzsche But the collection takes a real nosedive with Dirty Hands The most obvious problem with this play is its length it is overlong, and underwhelming But the serious problem with this play is that it is badly digested Dostoyevsky It is a straightforward ripoff of Crime and Punishment a young intellectual striving to reconcile theory and action, a disillusionment with socialism, a final redemption through owning up to one s actions Sartre even gives Hugo the code name Raskolnikov which he might have thought would be cute, but ended up merely pathetic Someone should have told Sartre that Dostoyevsky s style doesn t work as a play it s too psychological to be compellingly portrayed through dialogue And here was well, the play suffers from predictability, as the mindful reader, acquainted with Sartre s ideas, knows how it must turn out from the very first act A play where all action is subordinated to a thinker s system is a drama without drama Imagine if Freud wrote a play The last play, The Respectful Prostitute, was almost comically bad I even felt embarrassed on Sartre s part for having his name associated with that half baked piece of work What is supposed to be a comment on American racism just becomes a parody of American popular fiction with stiff, stereotypical, two dimensional characters, as well as a potboiler plot When the Senator was speaking to Lizzie in the voice of Uncle Sam, I physically cringed And just examine this little snippet of dialogue near the end The first Clarke cleared a whole forest, just by himself he killed seventeen Indians with his bare hands before dying in an ambush his son practically built this town he was friends with George Washington, and died at Yorktown, for American independence my great grandfather was chief of the Vigilantes in San Francisco It goes on, but you get the picture Did Sartre get his entire picture of the United States through Spaghetti Westerns It would seem so, as he manages to throw together every crude stereotype he can find into this mess of a play One thing that consistently bothered me throughout all of these plays was Sartre s portrayals of women I actually found my reaction quite surprising, as I m normally not bothered by the unenlightened views of older authors But Sartre s portrayals aren t exactly sexist he doesn t treat the women as inferior per se Rather, Sartre sexualizes all of his female characters In No Exit, the two women are, in different ways, sex obsessed In Dirty Hands, hardly a scene goes by without men commenting on Jessica s attractiveness and Jessica, for her part, flirts back with every male in the play It is even implied I think that Olga, the hard boiled communist agent, is sexually involved with Hugo Of course, the only woman in The Respectful Prostitute is a prostitute, so perhaps it shouldn t come as a surprised that she is sexualized But I found the relationship between Electra and her brother Orestes the oddest of all, as Electra s professions of passionate love for Orestes didn t strike me as particularly platonic Take me in your arms, beloved, and press me to your breast Sartre, it seems, had a very narrow understanding of women In sum, this is my advice to those who wish to read this collection read No Exit, and, if the spirit moves you, The Flies the latter two plays can be safely consigned to the oblivion of time But, of course, the choice is yours how could it not be since all humans are condemned to freedom. The Respectable Prostitute Lucifer and the Lord Huis Clos A brief one act that seems much longer than it really is Alternately horrible and funny, it s Sartre s take on Hell, which can be described as such a small hotel room with no windows or mirrors, a door that is usually locked, and three couches Three people Garcin, Ines, and Estelle are all brought to this room by what I can only guess is a bellboy I read this in French, so forgive any factual errors that I missed as a reult of that Everyone keeps asking, Where s the torturer because they know they re in Hell and are going to suffer It s finally Ines who figures it outIl n y a pas de torture physique, n est ce que pas Et cependant, nous sommes en enferle bourreau, c est chacun de nous pour les deux autresRough translation There s no phyisical torture, right However, we re in Helleach of us is the torturer for the other two An even rougher translation Hell is other people L enfer, c est les autres At first, the other two resist this idea, and maintain that they can just ignore each other for the rest of eternity That lasts about five seconds, and the merde quickly hits the fan, and we see just why these three people ended up being forced into a room together Really interesting and thought provoking, but maybe not something you should make your French students act out during class Read for French Literature from 1800 to Present Jean Paul Sartre uses hell for the setting of his existentially significant work, No Exit While Sartre is an atheist, he uses a place that is fundamentally connected to Christian beliefs Yet Sartre s hell is vastly dissimilar to the Christian conception of hell, and makes no reference to a God or Satan Ultimately, the hell in No Exit serves the same purpose as a Christian hell to torment and torture The methods used are different, but the result is the same In fact, Sartre s hell is intense than a Christian one because not only is one tortured, but one tortures others, and most importantly oneself A Christian hell features external tortures, but in Sartre s one is his or her own torturer While a Christian hell offers fire and brimstone, infinite lakes of fire, and the rack, Sartre s hell consists of little than confinement and human company In fact, Sartre s hell ultimately proves to offer an escape it s the people who choose to continue their torment Sinners sent to a Christian hell shall be punished with everlasting destruction 2 Thessalonians 1 7 9 Pain and destruction might be the ultimate punishment for a Christian, but for Sartre s existentialist characters the judgment of the other is the greatest torture When Sartre s three main characters enter the scene, they are shocked by the lack of sinister instruments of torture No Exit, 4 Slowly, Garcin begins to understand the nature of his torture, if not the actual form it will take Ah , he says, it s life without a break 5 Once Garcin observes the lack of eyelids in his hell, he realizes there will be no escape The rack and poker can only cause so much pain But this hell is eternal, without even a momentary respite A Christian hell offers physical tortures, but a Sartrean hell dispenses psychological torture Garcin, Inez, and Estelle are to be eternally plagued with each other s company And of course, with company comes judgment Inez is the only one who comprehends the torture that the company of others is to be She is also the only member of the trio who outrightly admits to her sins Inez explains the nature of the group s sinning There have been people who burned their lives out for our sakes and we chuckled over it 17 Inez is the only character who is not in bad faith she is completely aware of her cruelty and need for dominance She desires domination and admits that she can t get on without making people suffer 26 As a lesbian, she transgresses the lines of typical sexual interactions and takes on a typically male role The other two sinners, Garcin and Estelle, outrightly deny that they have sinned Estelle, in fact, goes so far as to claim that a mistake has occurred surely she doesn t belong in hell Bur Inez knows better She knows that they never make mistakes 16 in hell, and that her two companions are being untruthful Ultimately the group s concern with the other stems from power All three have different needs for power and control Inez must control others with the intent of causing harm Estelle needs to feel desired, and by feeling desired she believes herself to have control She is also particularly disturbed by the lack of mirrors in hell, because she needs to see herself as others saw her 19 Garcin is, it seems, the least power hungry of the trio but he nonetheless asserts his dominance over his wife and over Estelle Estelle fixates on Garcin and seeks his admiration because he is the only available male Though Inez affirms her beauty, it is not enough for Estelle She needs a man to affirm her Garcin takes advantage of this situation as much as he took advantage of his wife Estelle is weak in the same way that Garcin s wife was she is willing to accept sub par treatment as long as she has a man Garcin wishes to use Estelle to affirm his bravery If he can convince Estelle that he is truly a brave man, then he somehow feels better Of course, Estelle doesn t care one way or the other about Garcin s true self Coward or hero, it s all one provided he kisses well 38 Garcin, Inez, and Estelle are unendingly confronted with the judgment of others as their punishment, as well as the company of each other who happen to be equally judgmental and simultaneously terrified of judgment While Inez seems completely aware of her transgressions, the other two are in total denial In fact, they are unwilling to truthfully share the circumstances of their deaths They lie in an attempt to hide from the negative judgments of their companions, just as they eluded justice for their actions while on earth However, once the truth does come out, and once Inez has fully expanded on her own cruelty, it becomes like a sort of contest amongst the the trio Each person wants to explain how cruel they were and what power they held over the other Estelle made a man die, Garcin tortured his wife, Inez seduced a woman and led her to her death Surely they must be important, special, and powerful to have had such a profound effect on the other But even with this shallow victory they continue to require affirmation from the other The way they are thought of on the earth they no longer inhabit becomes of extreme importance All three characters claim that they don t care about others, and they outline their cruelties without any real sign of remorse It seems like a badge of pride that they have been able to inflict so much damage on others The strange contradiction to this is their unending concern with the judgment of others They view the other as essentially useless, a petty object to be toyed with, and yet they can t handle the prospect of being thought negatively of The three look down at the people they left behind and hope their minds are focused on the deceased If people on earth still value them, then their lives continue to be significant Estelle wants men on earth to miss and admire her, Garcin wants his peers to respect him and affirm that he is not a coward Garcin s fate 39 has been left in the hands of others, and the prospect scares him Even after they realize that earth is somewhat separate from them, they cannot let go of the need for affirmation from each other Even in hell they need affirmation Estelle believes that if Garcin loves her, then she can be happy and have power, for example When the three are given the opportunity to leave hell and the hell of each other s company, they don t take it They are so wrapped up in the need for affirmation that they can t leave each other until they are sure they have it Garcin stares at the open door and says, I couldn t leave you here, gloating over my defeat 42 He then proceeds to shut the door and continue what is now SELF imposed torture This is where the most significant difference between a Christian hell and a Sartrean one becomes highly apparent In the Christian hell there is the rack and the poker to torture the sinner But in the case of the poker, someone else must inflict pain In Sartre s hell the sinners torture themselves Hell is not only a place of unending judgment , but to a Christian part of the torture of hell is the absence of God Once one is damned to hell they are forever without God s love and presence Obviously, Sartre does not care if God is present, and the three sinners in Sartre s hell seem to have no notion whatsoever of a God The fact that their hell lacks God is irrelevant But there is a different sort of lack that causes their torture They lack the presence of others who can make them feel good about themselves and make their lives meaningful They look down on earth and observe the lives they no longer touch, and the consciousness of those people somehow define their own existence As the ability to see down to earth fades away, so does their importance on earth Estelle looks down and as long as she can see her old life she is only half here 32 in hell When Garcin s view down to earth is gone, he surrenders and claims, I ve left my fate in their hands 39 His hope is that even though he cannot see the earth any, the earth will remember him Of course, the remembrances of others are not enough to satisfy Sartre s characters The specific WAY in which they are remembered is of equal, if not , importance Garcin is fixated on being remembered as a brave man Estelle wants to see that her beaus still desire her All the characters are also fixated on each other Inez is the most diabolical, it seems, but we see a certain degree of weakness in her While she does seem cold, she is also very dependent on trapping Estelle s emotions But it is hard to tell whether she needs love or if she genuinely needs to hurt the psyches of others in order to be happy Considering that up to this point she has been the only one living in good faith , she can be seen as truly cruel She may need to make others miserable in order to be happy, but we can assume she will have no problem finding such happiness She is, after all, in hell, where torture is on the menu and she is an expert chef In fact, her power to make the others suffer is so great that they don t even run from her when the opportunity arises Garcin could run from her when the door opens, but she has entrapped him so thoroughly that he cannot leave without her blessings regarding his character In Sartre s hell there is no God and no Satan, as well as no implements for physical suffering And yet the three characters who find themselves there are in agony They rely on the positive opinions of others, and both their companions and those they left on earth do not give them this affirmation Sartre s hell runs with great economy, as the tortured become their own torturers, and no one can leave because of their dependence on others Locks are unnecessary in his hell, as the damned become psychologically dependent on each other even as they feel pure hatred for the other The Sartrean notion of hell offers a level of psychological torture that a Christian hell cannot achieve the pain of torturing oneself And unlike a Christian hell, there is no need to employ torturers or buy any tools The damned take care of the torturing without any input or supervision A fantastically effective hell that requires no effort on the part of any outside entity What could be perfect I am surprised no one said much about the piece Dirty Hands since it was terribly interesting and took up a great deal of this book Though I love No exit and think that the punch line was both clever and well developed I think that Dirty Hands was by far a enjoyable work It was extremely clever, the wit was harsh The characters manipulative and yet humorously negatable The deep political messages, the thoughts surrounding purity of political ideals For some reason I can just better picture this on stage As someone who loves theater I think Dirty Hands would be excellent to reenact and depending on the gestures could be both moving and comical if well casted The flies was kind of of a classic message that seemed a bit straightforward though also complicated in its own way I don t know No Exit was great though The Prostitute had some interesting things to say about the roles of women and racial issues, but gosh the Dirty Hands one did it for me Excellent writing Human beings really can be Hell anyway. No Exit 3.5The Flies 3.5Dirty Hands 5The Respectful Prostitute 5Total 4.25, but I m rounding to 5 even though it s closer to 4 My favorite play in this collection, by far, is Dirty Hands It s about a man named Hugo who joined the Proletariat Party in Illyria and is assigned to the party s newsletter Finally, he gets his chance to prove himself to the party when he s asked to play secretary to a man the party deems dangerous to its cause and wants assassinated Hugo is supposed to be the man on the inside, let the assassins in at the right time, and go from there But Hugo wants to commit the assassination himself Hugo is a man who talks too much and is considered by party members to be nothing but an intellectual anarchist who only joined the party because anarchy was outdated Hugo joined the party because he was one of the upper classes who recognized the injustices of capitalism and wanted to get away from his past What follows in flashback format is the story of Hugo s assassination of Hoederer and the motivation behind the action that has him in prison for two years not a spoiler this is revealed in Act One, and it s the point of the entire play Most importantly, we get ideas Sartre wrote this play in 1948 It s an exploration of politics and ideals versus practicality It also seems to be a commentary against absurdity, the randomness Camus accepts and a statement of fatalism and acceptance of destiny against choice This is a common thread in all four plays In No Exit, the characters are stuck together in one room without an exit They are forced to interact, and they all have different reasons for being in that room, but the reason they re all together wasn t decided by them In The Flies, Zeus is in control He holds the strings, even when men think they get to decide, and Orestes fate can only lead him in one direction, despite everything he does to fight against it and be an individual, separate from the inherent connection to the gods In The Respectful Prostitute, truth and right versus wrong don t matter when the men note the use of men in power always win even when they lose I can t really say much about these four plays because I have too much to say about each one of them Most of all, I love the ideas I love plays that make me think There s very little set description, very few stage directions This is bare dialogue and character development Sartre wants his readers and viewers to contemplate the ideas My favorite aspect of No Exit is the tone chilling and straightforward to the point of being frightening It was like hearing an alarm go off and start in the distance and then get closer and closer and closer and closer My favorite aspect of The Flies is the retelling of a classic Greek play and its relevance to modern at the time politics and philosophy My favorite aspect of Dirty Hands is literally everything the characters, the plot, the themes, the political and philosophical questions, the fact that it reminds me of Hemingway s The Fifth Column It s an excellent play and up there as one of my favorites My favorite aspect ofThe Respectful Prostitute is Sartre s blatant and astute criticism of American nationalism He saw that members of the American aristocracy abuse their power and connections and manipulate Americans patriotism to brainwash them and force them into coalescence with their secret society ideals and goals The subtlety of this play and the depth of insight it reveals are astounding The plot and characters that Sartre chose to explore these themes are perfect The relevance is upsetting yet impressive In other words, I can t recommend these plays enough They re not technically perfect The dialogue is sometimes stilted, and I m sure this isn t a translation issue Also, Jessica of Dirty Hands really annoys me She s like one of Hemingway s women I could tell Sartre wants her to come off strong and different, but she comes off like she s trying too hard I think Sartre liked her much than any reader spectator would Still, the plays are all worth reading for the ideas conveyed through them I can t believe I ve never read Sartre before this, but I can imagine myself reading of his work