No Exit Existentialism Essay Questions

Existentialism In No Exit Essay

648 Words3 Pages

In his play, No Exit, Jean-Paul Sartre examines basic themes of existentialism through three characters. The first subject, Garcin, embraces existentialist ideas somewhat. The second character, Inez, seems to fully understand ideas deemed existential. Estelle is the third person, and does not seem to understand these ideas well, nor does she accept them when they are first presented to her. One similarity amongst the three is that they all at some point seem to accept that they are in Hell for a reason.
     Garcin admittedly is in Hell because he was unkind and unfaithful to his wife. He however, does not wish he had acted differently, for he says, “I tell you I regret nothing (p. 24).'; In this…show more content…

25),’'; and “You know, I don’t regret a thing (p. 25).'; She also states, “…I prefer to choose my hell…(p. 23),'; which advocates the principle that everyone has a free will. She gives a good example of the concept that mankind has a free will, and that few decisions are without any negative consequences when she says, “So now we have to pay the reckoning (p. 17),'; and “…people aren’t damned for nothing (p. 16).'; However, she violates the existentialist idea that everything is coincidental, nothing really happens for a purpose, when she persists in telling the others that they have been put there together for a purpose. An example of this is when she says, “Mere Chance?… Nothing was left to chance. This room was all set for us.';
     Estelle perhaps had the hardest time coming to terms with her transgressions and existentialist ideas. She is in hell because she committed adultery, from which she birthed and killed her unwanted daughter, driving her lover to commit suicide himself. However, at some points, she almost refuses to believe that she is in hell, like when she says, “That’s just it. I haven’t a notion, not the foggiest. In fact, I’m

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  • 1

    Is Garcin a coward? Why or why not?

  • 2

    "That's just it. I haven't a notion, not the foggiest. In fact, I'm wondering if there hasn't been some ghastly mistake. Don't smile. Just think of the number of people who - who become absentees every day. There must be thousands and thousands, and probably they're sorted out by - by understrappers, you know what I mean. Stupid employees who don't know their job. So they're bound to make mistakes sometimes..."

    Analyse the passage in light of Sartre's existentialism. Ask yourself the fundamental question: are the characters assembled by mistake? In other words, is it chance that has brought them together?

  • 3

    Examine the masculine-feminine dynamic in the play. What does Sartre seem to be saying about the battle of the sexes? Is it even important that Inez and Estelle are women, and Garcin a man? Is Sartre's argument gender-based or gender-neutral?

  • 4

    Why does Garcin refuse to leave when the door opens? Compare this moment to the stasis that is at the heart of Beckett's Waiting for Godot, where the two men keep saying they will leave and never do.

  • 5

    Estelle cannot bear the absence of mirrors in the room. Discuss the idea that hell might be the inability to see oneself.

  • 6

    Examine the ways in which Inez's sexuality drives the narrative and offers a king of commentary on the other characters. What does Sartre have to say in regard to homosexual versus heterosexual desire?

  • 7

    Analyze the play's title. Be sure to consider the original French: Huis Clos.

  • 8

    Does No Exit offer hope? Can the play's implications be reconciled with Sartre's later attempts to propose a more humanist form of existentialism?

  • 9

    Compare No Exit and Endgame. In what ways is Beckett's vision similar to Sartre's, and in what ways does it differ?

  • 10

    All three characters are able, at certain points, to "watch" the world of the living. Analyze the underlying patters and the ways in which one character's vision differs from another's.

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