No Exit and Existentialis


Jean-Paul Sartre's portrayal of Hell in No Exit is fueled with dramatic
irony, implemented in order to amuse the reader. Sartre's illustration
of Hades is very psychological, and instead of Satan agonizing you,
three roommates take to the task. They each in turn irritate and
aggravate one another, thus making themselves hysterical, and thus
producing dramatic irony. In addition to a door that will not open,
and living in a windowless room, all three characters possess no
eyelids, and thus are unable to sleep. For relief, they conspire with
one or the other, but that merely plunges them further into the
inevitable distress of Hell. Throughout the play, the dramatic irony
that occurs between Inez, Estelle, and Garcin enriches the meaning and
effect of the play in a postive form, despite the psychological plot
evokes a disturbing, aggravating scenario-- which is in accordance to
the typical view of Hell. This eerie play is successful in creating a
positive perspective to the existentialism philosophy, and in addition
stirs up a scenario in which readers learn from such provocative

Moreover, it is weighty to realize that the lessons of existentialism--
such as the role of personal responsibility, the bleak position of
mankind in the universe, and the fact that being stuck with boorish
people is the worst punishment ever conceived-- are no longer
revelations. What was avant-garde a half-century ago has since been
digested and regurgitated by the mainstream. The existential theme of
the play may be pass to modern society, that one may not learn, or even
so much as benefit from it.

Firstly, Sartre's strong association with the existentialism philosophy
is exemplified in No Exit. It is a portrayal that life in Hell is just
the same as life on Earth, perhaps the only difference being that their
travesties are magnified. As the lives of Inez, Estelle, and Garcin
continue in Hell, their main torment is the one thing that they were
never able to achieve on Earth. So due to the consequences of their
actions, they eternally suffer in Hell. This presents a contrasting
view to one tenet of existentialism, something which Sartre was heavily
affiliated with. If there were no ill consequences, on what grounds
would people be sent to Hell? Or Heaven for that matter? This new
view brings to light the absurdity of life. What did Garcin do in
order to be sent to Hell for all eternity? He was just a coward who
claimed to be a Pacifist. And that is something he chose to do in
life; an action that relied on his free will. The dramatic irony is
that he must endure the embarrassment of his mortal life all over again
in his immortal life, merely for exercising his free will. Through
this, Sartre not only insinuates the absurdity of life, but also the
bleakness that humanity serves. By incorporating such views, he sets
up a condition that horrifies the reader, yet inspires satire. At the
beginning of the play, Inez asks Garcin if he is the torturer, from
which Garcin replies that he no such thing. From this, Garcin is blind
to realize that she is the torturer, merely mistaken for a casual human
being. Such dramatic irony enriches the existentialist views inspired
in the play, and it works for both lovers and haters of the
philosophy. It creates the perspective that you're damned if you do,
and you're damned if you don't. This is a perspective that you'll love
if you're an existentialist, and something you'll hate if you're not.

The effects of No Exit may cause a reader to oppose existentialism, but
whatever the case may be, it surely provokes the reader to think about
the cause and effects of life. Living a life that wasn't meant to be
lived by you completely falsifies your identity. This was Garcin's
case, and his torturer was Inez, who knew in truth that he was a
coward. Inez, the cold, apathetic clerk, had Estelle as her torturer,
and Estelle would only surface unrequited love. Estelle, the femme
fatale, remained tortured because she could never get Garcin to love
her, as he is the only man within her reach. This is the main
ingredient that produces the dramatic irony throughout the play. With
Inez tormenting Garcin, Garcin tormenting Estelle, and Estelle
tormenting Inez, each without realization that they are each others
"Satan", a strong irony is presented. This irony affects the reader in
such a way that they learn it is not people which create our madness,
but more the way we feel toward them. Madness cannot root from other
people's actions, but it can root from the effects of their actions.
This is exactly the reason why believers in existentialism are
apathetic to life, as they are never mad from other people's actions,
but essentially mad at their effects. Take for example, Estelle. She
is a woman driven mad because of Garcin and his failure to tribute any
of his masculine attention to her. Estelle is not mad from his
actions, but more so at the effect of his actions on her. If she were
apathetic to his apathy, all would be fine. And if Garcin were
apathetic to Inez, and Inez to Estelle, Hell would be brought down, and
existentialism would triumph. Sartre subtly praises the existentialism
philosophy in this, as he is basically saying, we should all be
apathetic and all will be fine. And looking at it from a whole, this
is the final ingredient that creates the dramatic irony in the play.

In conclusion, No Exit is a play that presents a positive perspective
on the existentialism philosophy. Through illustrating three people
going mad and incorporating the tenets of existentialism, the reader is
hinted that it is better to be apathetic to the absurdity of life,
rather then to get all worked up from it.


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