- Your title (come up with this last, after you’ve written your piece)
- Your introduction of your issue/theme and a proper introduction of the play, No Exit by Jean Paul Sartre, and your thesis statement or an initial statement to begin your discussion of how the play addresses your chosen theme/issue.
- Two or three body paragraphs where you use some combination of quotes, paraphrase, and summary to analyze the way you see the play addressing your chosen theme and why it’s significant. Make sure you cite paraphrases and quotes with parenthetical citations.
- A conclusion where you tie all of your points together and drive home the implications of your argument about how the play treats/addresses your chosen theme and why it’s significant.
- Your in-depth response to the above four elements in at least one of your classmates’ posts.
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THREE OTHER PLAYS
JEAN PAUL SARTRE
NO EXIT (Huis Clos)
THE FLIES (Les Mouches) translated from the French by Stuart Gilbert DIRTY HANDS (Les Mains sales)
THE RESPECTFUL PROSTITUTE (La Putain respectueuse) translated from the French by Lionel Abel
NO EXIT (Huis Clos) – A PLAY IN ONE ACT
CHARACTERS IN THE PLAY
Huis Clos (No Exit) was presented for the first time at the Theatre du Vieux-Colombier, Paris, in May 1944.
A drawing-room in Second Empire style. A massive bronze ornament stands on the mantelpiece.
VALET: What about?
GARCIN: About [makes a sweeping gesture] this—er—residence.
VALET: Really, sir, how could you believe such cock-and-bull stories? Told by people who’d never set foot here. For, of course, if they had—
GARCIN. Quite so. [Both laugh. Abruptly the laugh dies from GAR-CIN’S face.] But, I say, where are the instruments of torture?
VALET: The what?
GARCIN: The racks and red-hot pincers and all the other paraphernalia? VALET Ah, you must have your little joke, sir!
GARCIN, My little joke? Oh, I see. No, I wasn’t joking. [A short silence. He strolls round the room.] No mirrors, I notice. No windows. Only to be expected. And nothing breakable. [Bursts out angrily.] But, damn it all, they might have left me my toothbrush!
VALET. That’s good! So you haven’t yet got over your—what-do-you-call-it?–sense of human dignity? Excuse me smiling.
GARCIN [thumping ragefully the arm of an armchair]: I’ll ask you to be more polite. I quite realize the position I’m in, but I won’t tolerate . . .
GARCIN [more calmly]:
VALET: That’s so.
VALET: Romantic, that’s what you are.
GARCIN. Will you keep quiet, please! . . . I won’t make a scene, I shan’t be sorry for myself, I’ll face the situation, as I said just now. Face it fairly and squarely. I won’t have it spring-ing at me from behind, before I’ve time to size it up. And you call that being “romantic”! . . . So it comes to this; one doesn’t need rest. Why bother about sleep if one isn’t sleepy? That stands to reason, doesn’t it? Wait a minute, there’s a snag somewhere; something disagreeable. Why, now, should it be disagreeable?. . . Ah, I see; it’s life with-out a break.
VALET What do you mean by that?
GARCIN. What do I mean? [Eyes the VALET suspiciously.] I thought as much. That’s why there’s something so beastly, so damn bad-mannered, in the way you stare at me. They’re para lyzed.
VALET. What are you talking about?
VALET: Can’t you see? The lights are on.
GARCIN: Ah yes, I’ve got it. It’s your daytime. And outside?
GARCIN: Damn it, you know what I mean. Beyond that wall.
VALET: That’s all.
GARCIN But surely you have a day off sometimes. Where do you go?
VALET: To my uncle’s place. He’s the head valet here. He has a room on the third floor. GARC1N: I should have guessed as much. Where’s the light-switch?
VALET: There isn’t any.
GARC1N: What? Can’t one turn off the light?
VALET. Oh, the management can cut off the current if they want to. But I can’t remember their having done so on this floor. We have all the electricity we want.
GARCIN- So one has to live with one’s eyes open all the time?
VALET: To live, did you say?
GARCIN: Don’t let’s quibble over words. With one’s eyes open. Forever. Always broad daylight in my eyes—and in my head. [Short silence.] And suppose I took that contraption on the mantelpiece and dropped it on the lamp—wouldn’t it go out?
VALET: You can’t move it. It’s too heavy.
GARC1N [seizing the bronze ornament and trying to lift it]: You’re right? It’s too heavy. [A short silence follows.]
VALET: Very well, sir, if you don’t need me any more, I’ll be off.
GARCIN: What? You’re going? [The VALET goes up to the door.] Wait. [VALET looks round.] That’s a bell, isn’t it? [VALET nods.] And if I ring, you’re bound to come? VALET. Well, yes, that’s so—in a way. But you can never be sure about that bell. There’s something wrong with the wiring, and it doesn’t always work. [GARCIN goes to the bell-push and presses the button. A bell purrs outside.]
GARCIN: It’s working all right.
VALET [looking surprised]: So it is. [He, too, presses the button.] But I shouldn’t count on it too much if I were you. It’s—capricious. Well, I really must go now. [GARCIN makes a ges-ture to detain him.] Yes, sir?
GARCIN: No, never mind. [He goes to the mantelpiece and picks up a paper-knife.] What’s this? VALET: Can’t you see? An ordinary paper-knife.
GARCIN: Are there books here?
GARCIN: Then what’s the use of this? [VALET shrugs his shoulders.] Very well. You can go. [VALET goes out.] [GARC1N is by himself. He goes to the bronze ornament and strokes it reflectively. He sits down; then gets up, goes to the bell-push, and presses the button. The bell remains silent. He tries two or three times, without success. Then he tries to open the door, also without success. He calls the VALET several times, but gets no result. He beats the door with his fists, still calling. Suddenly he grows calm and sits down again. At the same moment the door opens and INEZ enters, followed by the VALET.]
VALET: Did you call, sir?
GARCIN [on the point of answering “Yes”—but then his eyes fall on INEZ]: No.
VALET [turning to INEZ]: This is your room, madam. [INEZ says nothing.] If there’s any information you require—? [INEZ still keeps silent, and the VALET looks slightly huffed.] Most of our guests have quite a lot to ask me. But I won’t insist. Anyhow, as regards the toothbrush, and the electric bell, and that thing on the mantelshelf, this gentleman can tell you anything you want to know as well as I could. We’ve had a little chat, him and me. [VALET goes out.] [GARCIN refrains from looking at INEZ, who is inspecting the room. Abruptly she turns to GARCIN.]
INEZ. Where’s Florence? [GARCIN does not reply.] Didn’t you hear? I asked you about Florence. Where is she?
GARCIN: I haven’t an idea.
INEZ. Ah, that’s the way it works, is it? Torture by separation. Well, as far as I’m concerned, you won’t get anywhere. Florence was a tiresome little fool, and I shan’t miss her in the least.
INEZ [shrugging her shoulders]: That’s your affair. [Silence.] Must you be here all the time, or do you take a stroll outside, now and then?
GARCIN: The door’s locked.
INEZ: Oh! . . . That’s too bad.
GARCIN I can quite understand that it bores you having me here. And I, too—well, quite frankly, I’d rather be alone. I want to think things out, you know; to set my life in order, and one does that better by oneself. But I’m sure we’ll manage to pull along together somehow. I’m no talker, I don’t move much; in fact I’m a peaceful sort of fellow. Only, if I may venture on a suggestion, we should make a point of being extremely courteous to each other. That will ease the situation for us both.
INEZ: I’m not polite.
GARCIN Then I must be polite for two. [A longish silence. GARCIN is sitting on a sofa, while INEZ paces up and down the room.]
INEZ [fixing her eyes on him]: Your mouth!
GARCIN [as if waking from a dream]: I beg your pardon.
INEZ: Can’t you keep your mouth still? You keep twisting it about all the time. It’s grotesque. GARCIN: So sorry. I wasn’t aware of it.
INEZ. That’s just what I reproach you with. [GARCIN’S mouth twitches.] There you are! You talk about politeness, and you don’t even try to control your face. Remember you’re not alone; you’ve no right to inflict the sight of your fear on me.
GARCIN [getting up and going towards her]: How about you? Aren’t you afraid?
INEZ: What would be the use? There was some point in being afraid before; while one still had hope.
GARCIN [in a low voice]: There’s no more hope—but it’s still “before.” We haven’t yet begun to suffer.
INEZ: That’s so. [A short silence.] Well? What’s going to happen?
GARCIN: I’m not the torturer, madam.
ESTELLE. I never thought you were. I—I thought someone was trying to play a rather nasty trick on me. [To the VALET] Is anyone else coming?
INEZ: You’re very pretty. I wish we’d had some flowers to wel-come you with.
INEZ: Yes. Last week. What about you?
ESTELLE: I’m—quite recent. Yesterday. As a matter of fact, the ceremony’s not quite over. [Her tone is natural enough, but she seems to be seeing what she describes.] The wind’s blowing my sister’s veil all over the place. She’s trying her best to cry. Come, dear! Make another effort. That’s better. Two tears, two little tears are twinkling under the black veil. Oh dear! What a sight Olga looks this morning! She’s ‘holding my sister’s arm, helping her along. She’s not crying, and I don’t blame her, tears always mess one’s face up, don’t they? Olga was my bosom friend, you know.
INEZ: Did you suffer much?
ESTELLE: No. I was only half conscious, mostly.
INEZ: What was it?
ESTELLE: Pneumonia. [In the same tone as before] It’s over now, they’re leaving the cemetery. Good-by. Good-by. Quite a crowd they are. My husband’s stayed at home. Prostrated with grief, poor man. [To INEZ] How about you?
INEZ: The gas stove.
ESTELLE: And you, Mr. Garcin?
GARCIN: Twelve bullets through my chest. [Estelle makes a hor-rified gesture.] Sorry! I fear I’m not good company among the dead.
ESTELLE: Please, please don’t use that word. It’s so—so crude. In terribly bad taste, really. It doesn’t mean much, anyhow. Somehow I feel we’ve never been so much alive as now. If we’ve absolutely got to mention this—this state of things, I suggest we call ourselves—wait!— absentees. Have you been—been absent for long?
GARCIN: About a month.
ESTELLE: Where do you come from?
GARCIN: From Rio.
ESTELLE: I’m from Paris. Have you anyone left down there?
GARCIN: Yes, my wife. [In the same tone as ESTELLE has been using] She’s waiting at the entrance of the barracks. She comes there every day. But they won’t let her in. Now she’s trying to peep between the bars. She doesn’t yet know I’m—absent, but she suspects it. Now she’s going away. She’s wearing her black dress. So much the better, she won’t need to change. She isn’t crying, but she never did cry, anyhow. It’s a bright sunny day and she’s like a black shadow
creeping down the empty street. Those big tragic eyes of hers—with that martyred look they always had. Oh, how she got on my nerves! [A short silence. GARCIN sits on the central sofa and buries his head in his hands.]
ESTELLE: Please, Mr. Garcin!
GARCIN: What is it?
ESTELLE: You’re sitting on my sofa.
GARCIN: I beg your pardon. [He gets up)
ESTELLE: You looked so—so far away. Sorry I disturbed you.
GARCIN: I was setting my life in order. [INEZ starts laughing.] You may laugh, but you’d do better to follow my example.
INEZ: No need. My life’s in perfect order. It tidied itself up nicely of its own accord. So I needn’t bother about it now.
GARCIN. Really? You imagine it’s so simple as that. [He runs his hand over his forehead.] Whew! How hot it is here! Do you mind if—? [He begins taking off his coat.] ESTELLE How dare you! [More gently] No, please don’t. I loathe men in their shirt-sleeves. GARCIN [putting on his coat again]: All right. [A short pause.] Of course, I used to spend my nights in the newspaper office, and it was a regular Black Hole, so we never kept our coats on. Stiflingly hot it could be. [Short pause. In the same tone as previously] Stifling, that it is. It’s night now.
ESTELLE: That’s so. Olga’s undressing; it must be after midnight. How quickly the time passes, on earth!
INEZ: Yes, after midnight. They’ve sealed up my room. It’s dark, pitch-dark, and empty. GARCIN: They’ve strung their coats on the backs of the chairs and rolled up their shirt-sleeves above the elbow. The air stinks of men and cigar-smoke. [A short silence.] I used to like living among men in their shirt-sleeves.
ESTELLE [aggressively]: Well, in that case our tastes differ. That’s all it proves. [Turning to INEZ] What about you? Do you like men in their shirt-sleeves? INEZ. Oh, I don’t care much for men any way.
ESTELLE [looking at the other two with a puzzled air]: Really I can’t imagine why they put us three together. It doesn’t make sense.
INEZ [stifling a laugh]: What’s that you said?
ESTELLE: I’m looking at you two and thinking that we’re going to live together. . . . It’s so absurd. I expected to meet old friends, or relatives.
INEZ Yes, a charming old friend—with a hole in the middle of his face.
ESTELLE. Yes, him too. He danced the tango so divinely. Like a professional. . . . But why, why should we of all people be put together?
GARCIN: A pure fluke, I should say. They lodge folks as they can, in the order of their coming. [To INEZ] Why are you laughing?
INEZ: Because you amuse me, with your “flukes.” As if they left anything to chance! But ‘suppose you’ve got to reassure yourself somehow.
ESTELLE [hesitantly]: I wonder, now. Don’t you think we may have met each other at some time in our lives?
INEZ: Never. I shouldn’t have forgotten you.
ESTELLE: Or perhaps we have friends in common. I wonder if you know the Dubois Seymours?
INEZ: Not likely.
ESTELLE. But everyone went to their parties.
INEZ: What’s their job?
ESTELLE: Oh, they don’t do anything. But they have a lovely house in the country, and hosts of people visit them.
INEZ: I didn’t. I was a post-office clerk.
ESTELLE [recoiling a little]: Ah, yes.. . . Of course, in that case—[A pause.] And you, Mr. Garcin?
GARCIN. We’ve never met. I always lived in Rio.
ESTELLE: Then you must be right. It’s mere chance that has brought us together. INEZ: Mere chance? Then it’s by chance this room is furnished as we see it. It’s an accident that the sofa on the right is a livid green, and that one on the left’s wine-red. Mere chance? Well, just try to shift the sofas and you’ll see the difference quick enough. And that statue on the mantelpiece, do you think it’s there by accident? And what about the heat here? How about that? [A short silence.] I tell you they’ve thought it all out. Down to the last detail. Nothing was left to chance. This room was all set for us.
ESTELLE: But really! Everything here’s so hideous; all in angles, so uncomfortable. I always loathed angles.
INEZ [shrugging her shoulders]: And do you think I lived in a Second Empire drawing-room? ESTELLE: So it was all fixed up beforehand?
INEZ. Yes. And they’ve put us together deliberately.
ESTELLE: Then it’s not mere chance that you precisely are sitting opposite me? But what can be the idea behind it?
INEZ. Ask me another! I only know they’re waiting.
ESTELLE: I never could bear the idea of anyone’s expecting some-thing from me. It always made me want to do just the op-posite.
INEZ: Well, do it. Do it if you can. You don’t even know what they expect. ESTELLE [stamping her foot]: It’s outrageous! So something’s com-ing to me from you two? [She eyes each in turn.] Something nasty, I suppose. There are some faces that tell me everything at once. Yours don’t convey anything.
GARCIN [turning abruptly towards INEZ]: Look here! Why are we together? You’ve given us quite enough hints, you may as well come out with it.
INEZ [in a surprised tone]: But I know nothing, absolutely noth-ing about it. I’m as much in the dark as you are.
GARCIN: We’ve got to know. [Ponders for a while.]
INEZ: If only each of us had the guts to tell—GARCIN: Tell what?
INEZ: What have you done? I mean, why have they sent you here?
INEZ: Is that all you have to tell us?
GARCIN: Certainly not. [A short silence.] And now, tell me, do you think it’s a crime to stand by one’s principles?
ESTELLE: Of course not. Surely no one could blame a man for that!
GARCIN: Wait a bit! I ran a pacifist newspaper. Then war broke out. What was I to do? Everyone was watching me, won-dering: “Will he dare?” Well, I dared. I folded my arms and they shot me. Had I done anything wrong?
ESTELLE [laying her hand on his arm]: Wrong? On the contrary. You were— INEZ [breaks in ironically]: —a hero! And how about your wife, Mr. Garcin? GARCIN: That’s simple. I’d rescued her from—from the gutter.
ESTELLE [to INEZ] You see! You see!
INEZ: Yes, I see. [A pause.] Look here! What’s the point of play-acting, trying to throw dust in each other’s eyes? We’re all tarred with the same brush.
ESTELLE [indignantly]: How dare you!
GARCIN [raising his fist]: Will you keep your mouth shut, damn it!
INEZ [confronting him fearlessly, but with a look of vast surprise]: Well, well! [A pause.] Ah, I understand now. I know why they’ve put us three together.
GARCIN: I advise you to—to think twice before you say any more.
INEZ. Wait! You’ll see how simple it is. Childishly simple. Obviously there aren’t any physical torments—you agree, don’t you? And yet we’re in hell. And no one else will come here. We’ll stay in this room together, the three of us, forever and ever. . . . In short, there’s someone absent here, the official torturer.
GARCIN [sotto voce]: I’d noticed that.
INEZ: It’s obvious what they’re after—an economy of man-power—or devil-power, if you prefer. The same idea as in the cafeteria, where customers serve themselves.
ESTELLE: Whatever do you mean?
INEZ: I mean that each of us will act as torturer of the two others. [There is a short silence while they digest this information.]
ESTELLE: Have I got to keep silent, too?
GARCIN: Yes. And that way we—we’ll work out our salvation. Looking into ourselves, never raising our heads. Agreed?
ESTELLE [after some hesitation]: I agree.
GARCIN: Then—good-by. [He goes to his sofa and buries his head in his hands. There is a long silence; then INEZ begins singing to herself]
INEZ [singing]: What a crowd in Whitefriars Lane! They’ve set trestles in a row, With a scaffold and the knife, And a pail of bran below. Come, good folks, to Whitefriars Lane, Come to see the merry show! The headsman rose at crack of dawn, He’d a long day’s work in hand, Chopping heads off generals, Priests and peers and admirals, All the highest in the land, What a crowd in Whitefriars Lane!
See them standing in a line, Ladies all dressed up so fine. But their heads have got to go, Heads and hats roll down below. Come, good folks, to Whitefriars Lane, Come to see the merry show! [Meanwhile ESTELLE has been plying her powder-puff and lipstick. She looks round for a mirror, fumbles in her bag, then turns towards GARCIN.]
ESTELLE: Excuse me, have you a glass? [GARCIN does not answer]. Any sort of glass, a pocket-mirror will do. [GARCIN remains silent.] Even if you won’t speak to me, you might lend me a glass. [His head still buried in his hands, GARCIN ignores her.]
INEZ [eagerly]: Don’t worry. I’ve a glass in my bag. [She opens her bag. Angrily.] It’s gone! They must have taken it from me at the entrance.
ESTELLE: How tiresome! [A short silence. ESTELLE shuts her eyes and sways, as if about to faint. Inez runs forward and holds her up.]
INEZ: What’s the matter?
ESTELLE [opens her eyes and smiles]: I feel so queer. [She pats herself] Don’t you ever get taken that way? When I can’t see myself I begin to wonder if I really and truly exist. I pat myself just to make sure, but it doesn’t help much.
INEZ: You’re lucky. I’m always conscious of myself—in my mind. Painfully conscious. I ESTELLE: Ah yes, in your mind. But everything that goes on in one’s head is so vague, isn’t it? It makes one want to sleep. [She is silent for a while.] I’ve six big mirrors in my bedroom. There they are. I can see them. But they don’t see me. They’re reflecting the carpet, the settee, the window—but how empty it is, a glass in which I’m absent! When I talked to people I always made sure there was one nearby in which I could see myself. I watched myself talking. And somehow it kept me alert, seeing myself as the others saw me. . . Oh dear! My lipstick! I’m sure I’ve put it on all crooked. No, I can’t do without a looking-glass for ever and ever. I simply can’t. INEZ: Suppose I try to be your glass? Come and pay me a visit, dear. Here’s a place for you on my sofa.
ESTELLE: But—[Points to GARCIN.]
INEZ: Oh, he doesn’t count.
ESTELLE. But we’re going to—to hurt each other. You said it yourself.
INEZ: Do I look as if I wanted to hurt you?
ESTELLE: One never can tell.
INEZ. Much more likely you’ll hurt me. Still, what does it matter? If I’ve got to suffer, it may as well be at your hands, your pretty hands. Sit down. Come closer. Closer. Look into my eyes. What do you see?
ESTELLE. Oh, I’m there! But so tiny I can’t see myself properly.
INEZ- But I can. Every inch of you. Now ask me questions. I’ll be as candid as any looking glass. [ESTELLE seems rather embarrassed and turns to GARCIN, [as if appealing to him for help.]
ESTELLE: Please, Mr. Garcin. Sure our chatter isn’t boring you? [GARCIN makes no reply.] INEZ: Don’t worry about him. As I said, he doesn’t count. We’re by ourselves. . . . Ask away.
ESTELLE. Are you really—attracted by me?
INEZ. Very much indeed. [Another short silence.]
ESTELLE [indicating GARCIN by a slight movement of her head* But I wish he’d notice me, too.
INEZ: Of course! Because he’s a Man! [To GARCIN] You’ve won. [GARCIN says nothing.] But look at her, damn it! [Still no reply from GARCIN ] Don’t pretend. You haven’t missed a word of what we’ve said.
GARCIN: Quite so; not a word. I stuck my fingers in my ears, but your voices thudded in my brain. Silly chatter. Now will you leave me in peace, you two? I’m not interested in you. INEZ: Not in me, perhaps—but how about this child? Aren’t you interested in her? Oh, I saw through your game; you got on your high horse just to impress her.
GARCIN I asked you to leave me in peace. There’s someone talking about me in the newspaper office and I want to listen. And, if it’ll make you any happier, let me tell you that I’ve no use for the “child,” as you call her.
GARCIN: Oh, I didn’t mean it rudely.
ESTELLE: You cad! [They confront each other in silence for some moments.] GARCIN: So’s that’s that. [Pause.] You know I begged you not to speak.
ESTELLE: It’s her fault; she started. I didn’t ask anything of her and she came and offered me her—her glass.
INEZ: So you say. But all the time you were making up to him, trying every trick to catch his attention.
ESTELLE: Well, why shouldn’t I?
GARCIN: You’re crazy, both of you. Don’t you see where this is leading us? For pity’s sake, keep your mouths shut. [Pause.] Now let’s all sit down again quite quietly; we’ll look at the floor and each must try to forget the others are there. [A longish silence. GARCIN sits down. The women return hesi-tantly to their places. Suddenly INEZ swings round on him.]
INEZ: To forget about the others? How utterly absurd! I feel you there, in every pore. Your silence clamors in my ears. You can nail up your mouth, cut your tongue out—but you can’t prevent your being there. Can you stop your thoughts? I hear them ticking away like a clock, tick-tock, tick-tock, and I’m certain you hear mine. It’s all very well skulking on your sofa, but you’re everywhere, and every sound comes to me soiled, because you’ve intercepted it on its way.
GARCIN: Have it your own way. I suppose we were bound to come to this; they knew what they were about, and we’re easy game. If they’d put me in a room with men—men can keep their mouths shut. But it’s no use wanting the impossi-ble. [He goes to ESTELLE and lightly fondles her neck.] So I attract you, little girl? It seems you were making eyes at me?
ESTELLE: Don’t touch me.
GARCIN: You’re wrong. So long as each of us hasn’t made a clean breast of it—why they’ve damned him or her—we know nothing. Nothing that counts. You, young lady, you shall begin. Why? Tell us why. If you are frank, if we bring our specters into the open, it may save us from disaster. So—out with it! Why?
ESTELLE- I tell you I haven’t a notion. They wouldn’t tell me why.
GARCIN. That’s so. They wouldn’t tell me, either. But I’ve a pretty good idea. . . . Perhaps you’re shy of speaking first? Right. I’ll lead off. [A short silence.] I’m not a very estimable person. INEZ: No need to tell us that. We know you were a deserter.
GARCIN: Let that be. It’s only a side-issue. I’m here because I treated my wife abominably. That’s all. For five years. Naturally, she’s suffering still. There she is: the moment I mention her, I see her. It’s Gomez who interests me, and it’s she I see. Where’s Gomez got to? For five years. There! They’ve given her back my things; she’s sitting by the win-dow, with my coat on her knees. The coat with the twelve bullet-holes. The blood’s like rust; a brown ring round each hole. It’s quite a museum-piece, that coat; scarred with history. And I used to wear it, fancy! . . . Now, can’t you shed a tear, my love! Surely you’ll squeeze one out—at last? No? You can’t manage it? . . . Night after night I came home blind drunk, stinking of wine and women. She’d sat up for me, of course. But she never cried, never uttered a word of reproach. Only her eyes spoke. Big, tragic eyes. I don’t re-gret anything. I must pay the price, but I shan’t whine. . . . It’s snowing in the street. Won’t you cry, confound you? That woman was a born martyr, you know; a victim by vocation.
INEZ [almost tenderly]: Why did you hurt her like that?
GARCIN: It was so easy. A word was enough to make her flinch. Like a sensitive-plant. But never, never a reproach. I’m fond of teasing. I watched and waited. But no, not a tear, not a protest. I’d picked her up out of the gutter, you under-stand. . . . Now she’s stroking the coat. Her eyes are shut and she’s feeling with her fingers for the bullet-holes. What are you after? What do you expect? I tell you I regret noth-ing. The truth is, she admired me too much. Does that mean anything to you?
INEZ: No. Nobody admired me.
INEZ: Well, I was what some people down there called “a damned bitch.” Damned already. So it’s no surprise, being here.
GARCIN: Is that all you have to say?
INEZ: No. There was that affair with Florence. A dead men’s tale. With three corpses to it. He to start with; then she and I. So there’s no one left, I’ve nothing to worry about; it was a clean sweep. Only that room. I see it now and then. Empty, with the doors locked. . . . No, they’ve just un-locked them. “To Let.” It’s to let; there’s a notice on the door. That’s—too ridiculous. GARCIN. Three. Three deaths, you said?
GARCIN: One man and two women?
GARCIN: Well, well. [A pause.] Did he kill himself?
INEZ. He? No, he hadn’t the guts for that. Still, he’d every reason; we led him a dog’s life. As a matter of fact, he was run over by a tram. A silly sort of end. . . . I was living with them; he was my cousin.
GARCIN: Was Florence fair?
INEZ: Fair? [Glances at ESTELLE.] You know, I don’t regret a thing; still, I’m not so very keen on telling you the story.
GARCIN: That’s all right. . . . So you got sick of him?
INEZ [Quite gradually]: All sorts of little things got on my nerves.For instance, he made a noise when he was drinking—a sort of gurgle. Trifles like that. He was rather pathetic really. Vulnerable. Why are you smiling?
GARCIN: Because I, anyhow, am not vulnerable.
INEZ: Don’t be too sure .. . I crept inside her skin, she saw the world through my eyes. When she left him, I had her on my hands. We shared a bed-sitting-room at the other end of the town. GARCIN: And then?
INEZ: Then that tram did its job. I used to remind her every day: “Yes, my pet, we killed him between us.” [A pause.] I’m rather cruel, really.
GARCIN: So am I.
INEZ: No, you’re not cruel. It’s something else.
INEZ: I’ll tell you later. When I say I’m cruel, I mean I can’t get on without making people suffer. Like a live coal. A live coal in others’ hearts. When I’m alone I flicker out. For six months I flamed away in her heart, till there was nothing but a cinder. One night she got up and turned on the gas while I was asleep. Then she crept back into bed. So now you know.
GARCIN: Well! Well!
INEZ: Yes? What’s in your mind?
GARCIN: Nothing. Only that it’s not a pretty story.
INEZ: Obviously. But what matter?
GARCIN: As you say, what matter? [To ESTELLE] Your turn. What have you done? ESTELLE: As I told you, I haven’t a notion. I rack my brain, but it’s no use.
GARCIN: Right. Then we’ll give you a hand. That fellow with the smashed face, who was he? ESTELLE: Who—who do you mean?
INEZ: You know quite well. The man you were so scared of seeing when you came in. ESTELLE: Oh, him! A friend of mine.
GARCIN: Why were you afraid of him?
ESTELLE: That’s my business, Mr. Garcin.
INEZ: Did he shoot himself on your account?
ESTELLE: Of course not. How absurd you are!
GARCIN: Then why should you have been so scared? He blew his brains out, didn’t he? That’s how his face got smashed.
ESTELLE: Don’t! Please don’t go on.
GARCIN: Because of you. Because of you.
INEZ: He shot himself because of you.
ESTELLE: Leave me alone! It’s—it’s not fair, bullying me like that. I want to go! I want to go! [She runs to the door and shakes it.]
GARCIN: Go if you can. Personally, I ask for nothing better. Unfortunately, the door’s locked. [ESTELLE presses the bell-push, but the bell does not ring. INEZ and GARCIN laugh. ESTELLE swings round on them, her back to the door.]
ESTELLE [in a muffled voice]: You’re hateful, both of you.
INEZ: Hateful? Yes, that’s the word. Now get on with it. That fellow who killed himself on your account—you were his mistress, eh?
GARCIN: Of course she was. And he wanted to have her to himself alone. That’s so, isn’t it? INEZ: He danced the tango like a professional, but he was poor as a church mouse—that’s right, isn’t it? [A short silence.]
GARCIN: Was he poor or not? Give a straight answer.
ESTELLE: Yes, he was poor.
GARCIN: And then you had your reputation to keep up. One day he came and implored you to run away with him, and you laughed in his face.
INEZ: That’s it. You laughed at him. And so he killed himself.
ESTELLE: Did you use to look at Florence in that way?
INEZ: Yes. [A short pause, then ESTELLE bursts out laughing.]
ESTELLE: You’ve got it all wrong, you two. [She stiffens her shoulders, still leaning against the door, and faces them. Her voice grows shrill, truculent.] He wanted me to have a baby. So there! GARCIN: And you didn’t want one?
ESTELLE: I certainly didn’t. But the baby came, worse luck. I went to Switzerland for five months. No one knew anything. It was a girl. Roger was with me when she was born. It pleased him no end, having a daughter. It didn’t please me!
GARCIN. And then?
ESTELLE: There was a balcony overlooking the lake. I brought a big stone. He could see what I was up to and he kept on shouting: “Estelle, for God’s sake, don’t!” I hated him then. He saw it all. He was leaning over the balcony and he saw the rings spreading on the water—
GARCIN: Yes? And then?
ESTELLE: That’s all. I came back to Paris—and he did as he wished.
GARCIN. You mean he blew his brains out?
ESTELLE: It was absurd of him, really, my husband never suspected anything. [A pause.] Oh, how I loathe you! [She sobs tearlessly.]
GARCIN: Nothing doing. Tears don’t flow in this place.
ESTELLE. I’m a coward. A coward! [Pause.] If you knew how hate you!
INEZ [taking her in her arms]: Poor child! [To GARCIN] So the hearing’s over. But there’s no need to look like a hanging judge.
GARCIN: A hanging judge? [He glances around him.] I’d give a lot to be able to see myself in a glass. [Pause.] How hot it is! [Unthinkingly he takes off his coat.] Oh, sorry! [He starts put-ting it on again.]
ESTELLE. Don’t bother. You can stay in your shirt-sleeves. As things are—
GARCIN: just SO. [He drops his coat on the sofa.] You mustn’t be angry with me, Estelle. ESTELLE: I’m not angry with you.
INEZ: And what about me? Are you angry with me?
ESTELLE: Yes. [A short silence.]
INEZ: Well, Mr. Garcin, now you have us in the nude all right. Do you understand things any better for that?
GARCIN: I wonder. Yes, perhaps a trifle better. [Timidly] And now suppose we start trying to help each other.
INEZ: I don’t need help.
GARCIN: Inez, they’ve laid their snare damned cunningly—like a cobweb. If you make any movement, if you raise your hand to fan yourself, Estelle and I feel a little tug. Alone, none of us can save himself or herself; we’re linked together inextricably. So you can take your choice. [A pause.] Hullo? What’s happening?
INEZ They’ve let it. The windows are wide open, a man is sitting on my bed. My bed, if you please! They’ve let it, let it! Step in, step in, make yourself at home, you brute! Ah, there’s a woman, too. She’s going up to him, putting her hands on his shoulders. . . . Damn it, why don’t they turn the lights on? It’s getting dark. Now he’s going to kiss her. But that’s my room, my room! Pitch-dark now. I can’t see anything, but I hear them whispering, whispering. Is he going to make love to her on my bed? What’s that she said? That it’s noon and the sun is shining? I must be going blind. [A pause.] Blacked out. I can’t see or hear a thing. So I’m done with the earth, it seems. No more alibis for me! [She shudders.] I feel so empty, desiccated—really dead at last. All of me’s here, in this room. [A pause.] What were you saying? Something about helping me, wasn’t it?
INEZ: Helping me to do what?
GARCIN: To defeat their devilish tricks.
INEZ: And what do you expect me to do in return?
GARCIN: To help me. It only needs a little effort, Inez; just a spark of human feeling. INEZ: Human feeling. That’s beyond my range. I’m rotten to the core.
GARCIN: And how about me? [A pause.] All the same, suppose we try?
INEZ. It’s no use. I’m all dried up. I can’t give and I can’t receive. How could I help you? A dead twig, ready for the burning. [She falls silent, gazing at ESTELLE, who has buried her head in her hands.] Florence was fair, a natural blonde.
GARCIN: Do you realize that this young woman’s fated to be your torturer? INEZ: Perhaps I’ve guessed it.
GARCIN: It’s through her they’ll get you. I, of course, I’m different—aloof. I take no notice of her. Suppose you had a try—
GARCIN: It’s a trap. They’re watching you, to see if you’ll fall into it.
INEZ: I know. And you’re another trap. Do you think they haven’t foreknown every word you say? And of course there’s a whole nest of pitfalls that we can’t see. Everything here’s a booby trap. But what do I care? I’m a pitfall, too. For her, obviously. And perhaps I’ll catch her. GARCIN: You won’t catch anything. We’re chasing after each other, round and round in a vicious circle, like the horses on a roundabout. That’s part of their plan, of course. . . . Drop it, Inez. Open your hands and let go of everything. Or else you’ll bring disaster on all three of us. INEZ: Do I look the sort of person who lets go? I know what’s coming to me. I’m going to burn, and it’s to last forever. Yes, I know everything. But do you think I’ll let go? I’ll catch her, she’ll see you through my eyes, as Florence saw that other man. What’s the good of trying to enlist my sympathy? I assure you I know everything, and I can’t feel sorry even for myself. A trap! Don’t I know it, and that I’m in a trap myself, up to the neck, and there’s nothing to be done about it? And if it suits their book, so much the better!
GARCIN [gripping her shoulders]: Well, I, anyhow, can feel sorry for you, too. Look at me, we’re naked, naked right through, and I can see into your heart. That’s one link between us. Do you think I’d want to hurt you? I don’t regret anything, I’m dried up, too. But for you I can still feel pity.
INEZ: Then why bother about them? What difference can it make?
ESTELLE: He belonged to me.
INEZ: Nothing on earth belongs to you any more.
ESTELLE: I tell you he was mine. All mine.
INEZ: Yes, he was yours—once. But now— Try to make him hear, try to touch him. Olga can touch him, talk to him as much as she likes. That’s so, isn’t it? She can squeeze his hands, rub herself against him—
ESTELLE: Yes, look! She’s pressing her great fat chest against him, puffing and blowing in his face. But, my poor little lamb, can’t you see how ridiculous she is? Why don’t you laugh at her? Oh, once I’d have only had to glance at them and she’d have slunk away. Is there really nothing, nothing left of me?
ESTELLE: You mine! That’s good! Well, which of you two would dare to call me his glancing stream, his crystal girl? You know too much about me, you know I’m rotten through and through. . . . Peter dear, think of me, fix your thoughts on me, and save me. All the time you’re thinking “my glancing stream, my crystal girl,” I’m only half here. I’m only half wicked, and half of me is down there with you, clean and bright and crystal-clear as running water. . . . Oh, just look at her face, all scarlet, like a tomato. No, it’s absurd, we’ve laughed at her together, you and I, often and often. . . . What’s that tune?—I always loved it. Yes, the “St. Louis Blues”. . . . All right, dance away, dance away. Garcin, I wish you could see her, you’d die of laughing. Only—she’ll never know I see her. Yes, I see you, Olga, with your hair all anyhow, and you do look a dope, my dear. Oh, now you’re treading on his toes. It’s a scream! Hurry up! Quicker! Quicker! He’s dragging her along, bundling her round and round—it’s too ghastly! He always said I was so light, he loved to dance with me. [She is dancing as she speaks.] I tell you, Olga, I can see you. No, she doesn’t care, she’s dancing through my gaze. What’s that? What’s that you said? “Our poor dear Estelle”? Oh, don’t be such a humbug! You didn’t even shed a tear at the funeral. . . . And she has the nerve to talk to him about her poor dear friend Esitelle! How dare she discuss me with Peter? Now then, keep time. She never could dance and talk at once. Oh, what’s that? No, no. Don’t tell him. Please, please don’t tell him. Youi can keep him, do what you like with him, but please don’t tell him about—that! [She has stopped dancing.] All right. You can have him now. Isn’t it foul, Garcin? She’s told him evrerything, about Roger, my trip to Switzerland, the baby.. “Poor Estelle wasn’t exactly—” No, I wasn’t exactly— True enough. He’s looking grave, shaking his head, but he doesn’t seem so very much surprised, not what one would expect. Keep him, then—I won’t haggle with you over his long eyelashes, his pretty girlish face. They’re yours for the asking. His glancing stream, his crystal. Well, the crystal’s shattered into bits. “Poor Estelle!” Dance, dance, dance. On with it. But do keep time. One, two. One, two. How I’d love to go down to earth for just a moment, and dance with him again. [She dances again for some moments.] The music’s growing fainter. They’ve turned down the lights, as they do for a tango. Why are they playing so softly? Louder, please. I can’t hear. It’s so far away, so far away. I—I can’t hear a sound. [She stops dancing.] All over. It’s the end. The earth has left me. [To GARCIN] Don’t turn from me—please. Take rme in your arms. [Behind ESTELLE’s back, INEZ signs to GARCIN to move away.]
INEZ [commandingly]: Now then, Garcin! [GARCIN moves back a step, and glancing at ESTELLE, points to INEZ]
GARCIN: It’s to her you should say that.
ESTELLE [clinging to him]: Don’t turn away. You’re a man, aren’t you, and surely I’m not such a fright as all that! Everyone says I’ve lovely hair and, after all, a man killed himself on my account. You have to look at something, and there’s nothing here to see except the sofas and that
awful ornament and the table. Surely I’m better to look at than a lot of stupid furniture. Listen! I’ve dropped out of their heart like a little sparrow fallen from its nest. So gather me up, dear, fold me to your heart—and you’ll see how nice I can be.
GARCIN [freeing himself from her, after a short struggle]: I tell you it’s to that lady you should speak.
ESTELLE: To her? But she doesn’t count, she’s a woman.
INEZ: Oh, I don’t count? Is that what you think? But, my poor little fallen nestling, you’ve been sheltering in my heart for ages, though you didn’t realize it.
INEZ: Come to me, Estelle. You shall be whatever you like: a glancing stream, a muddy stream. And deep down in my eyes you’ll see yourself just as you want to be.
ESTELLE: Oh, leave me in peace. You haven’t any eyes. Oh, damn it, isn’t there anything I can do to get rid of you? I’ve an idea. [She spits in INEZ’S face.] There!
INEZ: Garcin, you shall pay for this. [A pause. GARCIN shrugs his shoulders and goes to ESTELLE.]
GARCIN: So it’s a man you need?
ESTELLE: Not any man. You.
GARCIN: No humbug now. Any man would do your business. As I happen to be here, you want me. Right! [He grips her shoulders.] Mind, I’m not your sort at all, really; I’m not a young nincompoop and I don’t dance the tango.
ESTELLE: I’ll take you as you are. And perhaps I shall change you.
GARCIN: I doubt it. I shan’t pay much attention; I’ve other things to think about. ESTELLE: What things?
GARCIN: They wouldn’t interest you.
ESTELLE: I’ll sit on your sofa and wait for you to take some notice of me. I promise not to bother you at all.
INEZ [with a shrill laugh]: That’s right, fawn on him, like the silly bitch you are. Grovel and cringe! And he hasn’t even good looks to commend him!
ESTELLE [to GARCIN]: Don’t listen to her. She has no eyes, no ears. She’s—nothing.
GARCIN: I’ll give you what I can. It doesn’t amount to much. I shan’t love you; I know you too well.
ESTELLE: Do you want me, anyhow?
ESTELLE: I ask no more.
GARCIN: In that case— [He bends over her.]
INEZ: Estelle! Garcin! You must be going crazy. You’re not alone. I’m here too. GARCIN: Of course—but what does it matter?
INEZ. Under my eyes? You couldn’t—couldn’t do it.
ESTELLE Why not? I often undressed with my maid looking on.
INEZ [gripping GARCIN’S arm]: Let her alone. Don’t paw her with your dirty man’s hands. GARCIN [thrusting her away roughly]: Take care. I’m no gentleman, and I’d have no compunction about striking a woman.
INEZ. But you promised me; you promised. I’m only asking you to keep your word. GARCIN: Why should I, considering you were the first to break our agreement? [INEZ turns her back on him and retreats to the far end of the room.]
INEZ. Very well, have it your own way. I’m the weaker party, one against two. But don’t forget I’m here, and watching. I shan’t take my eyes off you, Garcin; when you’re kissing her, you’ll feel them boring into you. Yes, have it your own way, make love and get it over. We’re in hell; my turn will come. [During the following scene she watches them without speaking.]
GARCIN [coming back to ESTELLE and grasping her shoulders]: Now then. Your lips. Give me your lips. [A pause. He bends to kiss her, then abruptly straightens up.]
ESTELLE [indignantly]: Really! [A pause.] Didn’t I tell you not to pay any attention to her? GARCIN: You’ve got it wrong. [Short silence.] It’s Gomez; he’s back in the press-room. They’ve shut the windows; it must be winter down there. Six months since I— Well, I warned you I’d be absent-minded sometimes, didn’t I? They’re shivering, they’ve kept their coats on. Funny they should feel the cold like that, when I’m feeling so hot. Ah, this time he’s talking about me. ESTELLE: Is it going to last long? [Short silence.] You might at least tell me what he’s saying. GARCIN: Nothing. Nothing worth repeating. He’s a swine, that’s all. [He listens attentively.] A god-damned bloody swine. [He turns to ESTELLE.] Let’s come back to—to ourselves. Are you going to love me?
ESTELLE [smiling]: I wonder now!
GARCIN: Will you trust me?
ESTELLE: What a quaint thing to ask! Considering you’ll be under my eyes all the time, and I don’t think I’ve much to fear from Inez, so far as you’re concerned.
GARCIN: Obviously. [A pause. He takes his hands off ESTELLE’S shoulders.] I was thinking of another kind of trust. [Listens.] Talk away, talk away, you swine. I’m not there to defend myself. [To ESTELLE] Estelle, you must give me your trust.
ESTELLE: Oh, what a nuisance you are! I’m giving you my mouth, my arms, my whole body— and everything could be so simple. . . . My trust! I haven’t any to give, I’m afraid, and you’re making me terribly embarrassed. You must have something pretty ghastly on your conscience to make such a fuss about my trusting you.
GARCIN: They shot me.
ESTELLE: I know. Because you refused to fight. Well, why shouldn’t you?
GARCIN: I—I didn’t exactly refuse. [In a far-away voice] I must say he talks well, he makes out a good case against me, but he never says what I should have done instead. Should I have gone to the general and said: “General, I decline to fight”? A mug’s game; they’d have promptly locked me up. But I wanted to show my colors, my true colors, do you understand? I wasn’t going to be silenced. [To ESTELLE] So I—I took the train. . . . They caught me at the frontier.
ESTELLE: Where were you trying to go?
GARCIN: To Mexico. I meant to launch a pacifist newspaper down there. [A short silence.] Well, why don’t you speak?
ESTELLE: What could I say? You acted quite rightly, as you didn’t want to fight. [GARCIN makes a fretful gesture.] But, darling, how on earth can I guess what you want me to answer? INEZ. Can’t you guess? Well, I can. He wants you to tell him that he bolted like a lion. For “bolt” he did, and that’s what’s biting him.
GARCIN: “Bolted,” “went away”—we won’t quarrel over words.
ESTELLE: But you had to run away. If you’d stayed they’d have sent you to jail, wouldn’t they? GARCIN: Of course. [A pause.] Well, Estelle, am I a coward?
ESTELLE: How can I say? Don’t be so unreasonable, darling. I can’t put myself in your skin. You must decide that for yourself.
GARCIN [wearily]: I can’t decide.
ESTELLE: Anyhow, you must remember. You must have had reasons for acting as you did. GARCIN: I had.
GARCIN: But were they the real reasons?
ESTELLE You’ve a twisted mind, that’s your trouble. Plaguing yourself over such trifles! GARCIN: I’d thought it all out, and I wanted to make a stand. But was that my real motive? INEZ: Exactly. That’s the question. Was that your real motive? No doubt you argued it out with yourself, you weighed the pros and cons, you found good reasons for what you did. But fear and hatred and all the dirty little instincts one keeps dark—they’re motives too. So carry on, Mr. Garcin, and try to be honest with yourself—for once.
GARCIN: Do I need you to tell me that? Day and night I paced my cell, from the window to the door, from the door to the window. I pried into my heart, I sleuthed myself like a detective. By the end of it I felt as if I’d given my whole life to introspection. But always I harked back to the
one thing certain—that I had acted as I did, I’d taken that train to the frontier. But why? Why? Finally I thought: My death will settle it. If I face death courageously, I’ll prove I am no coward. INEZ: And how did you face death?
GARCIN: Miserably. Rottenly. [INEZ laughs.] Oh, it was only a physical lapse—that might happen to anyone; I’m not ashamed of it. Only everything’s been left in suspense forever. [To ESTELLE] Come here, Estelle. Look at me. I want to feel someone looking at me while they’re talking about me on earth. . . . I like green eyes.
INEZ: Green eyes! Just hark to him! And you, Estelle, do you like cowards?
ESTELLE: If you knew how little I care! Coward or hero, it’s all one—provided he kisses well. GARCIN: There they are, slumped in their chairs, sucking at their cigars. Bored they look. Half asleep. They’re thinking: “Garcin’s a coward.” But only vaguely, dreamily. One’s got to think of something. “That chap Garcin was a coward.” That’s what they’ve decided, those dear friends of mine. In six months’ time they’ll be saying: “Cowardly as that skunk Garcin.” You’re lucky, you two; no one on earth is giving you another thought. But I—I’m long in dying.
INEZ: What about your wife, Garcin?
GARCIN: Oh, didn’t I tell you? She’s dead.
GARCIN: Yes, she died just now. About two months ago.
INEZ: Of grief?
GARCIN: What else should she die of? So all is for the best, you see; the war’s over, my wife’s dead, and I’ve carved out my place in history. [He gives a choking sob and passes his hand over his face. ESTELLE catches his arm.]
ESTELLE: My poor darling! Look at me. Please look. Touch me. Touch me. [She takes his hand and puts it on her neck.] There! Keep your hand there. [GARCIN makes a fretful movement.] No, don’t move. Why trouble what those men are thinking? They’ll die off one by one. Forget them. There’s only me, now.
GARCIN. But they won’t forget me, not they! They’ll die, but others will come after them to carry on the legend. I’ve left my fate in their hands.
ESTELLE. You think too much, that’s your trouble.
GARCIN: What else is there to do now? I was a man of action once. . . . Oh, if only I could be with them again, for just one day—I’d fling their lie in their teeth. But I’m locked out; they’re passing judgment on my life without troubling about me, and they’re right, because I’m dead. Dead and done with. [Laughs.] A back number. [A short pause.]
ESTELLE [gently]: Garcin.
GARCIN: Still there? Now listen! I want you to do me a service. No, don’t shrink away. I know it must seem strange to you, having someone asking you for help; you’re not used to that. But if you’ll make the effort, if you’ll only will it hard enough, I dare say we can really love each other.
Look at it this way. A thousand of them are proclaiming I’m a coward; but what do numbers matter? If there’s someone, just one person, to say quite positively I did not run away, that I’m not the sort who runs away, that
GARCIN [to the two women]: You disgust me, both of you. [He goes towards the door.] ESTELLE: What are you up to?
GARCIN: I’m going.
INEZ [quickly]: You won’t get far. The door is locked.
GARCIN. I’ll make them open it. [He presses the bell-push. The bell does not ring.] ESTELLE: Please! Please!
INEZ [to ESTELLE]: Don’t worry, my pet. The bell doesn’t work.
GARCIN: Let go of her.
ESTELLE. You’re crazy. She hates you.
GARCIN: It’s because of her I’m staying here. [ESTELLE releases INEZ and stares dumbfoundedly at GARCIN.]
INEZ: Because of me? [Pause.] All right, shut the door. It’s ten times hotter here since it opened. [GARCIN goes to the door and shuts it.] Because of me, you said?
GARCIN: Yes. You, anyhow, know what it means to be a coward.
INEZ: Yes, I know.
GARCIN: And you know what wickedness is, and shame, and fear. There were days when you peered into yourself, into the secret places of your heart, and what you saw there made you faint with horror. And then, next day, you didn’t I know what to make of it, you couldn’t interpret the
horror you had glimpsed the day before. Yes, you know what evil costs. And when you say I’m a coward, you know from experience what that means. Is that so?
GARCIN: SO it’s you whom I have to convince; you are of my kind. Did you suppose I meant to go? No, I couldn’t leave you here, gloating over my defeat, with all those thoughts about me running in your head .
INEZ: Do you really wish to convince me?
INEZ: Why not? For thirty years you dreamt you were a hero, and condoned a thousand petty lapses—because a hero, of course, can do no wrong. An easy method, obviously. Then a day came when you were up against it, the red light of real danger—and you took the train to Mexico.
INEZ: Prove it. Prove it was no dream. It’s what one does, and nothing else, that shows the stuff one’s made of.
GARCIN. I died too soon. I wasn’t allowed time to—to do my deeds.
INEZ: One always dies too soon—or too late. And yet one’s whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up. You are—your life, and nothing else.
GARCIN: What a poisonous woman you are! With an answer for everything. INEZ Now then! Don’t lose heart. It shouldn’t be so hard, convincing me. Pull yourself together, man, rake up some ar-guments. [GARCIN shrugs his shoulders.] Ah, wasn’t I. right when I said you were vulnerable? Now you’re going to pay the price, and what a price! You’re a coward, Garcin, because I wish it. I wish it—do you hear?—I wish it. And yet, just look at me, see how weak I am, a mere breath on the air, a gaze observing you, a formless thought that thinks you. [He walks towards her, opening his hands.] Ah, they’re open now, those big hands, those coarse, man’s hands! But what do you hope to do? You can’t throttle thoughts with hands. So you’ve no choice, you must convince me, and you’re at my mercy.
ESTELLE: Revenge yourself.
ESTELLE: Kiss me, darling—then you’ll hear her squeal.
GARCIN: That’s true, Inez. I’m at your mercy, but you’re at mine as well. [He bends over ESTELLE. INEZ gives a little cry.]
INEZ: Oh, you coward, you weakling, running to women to console you! ESTELLE: That’s right, Inez. Squeal away.
INEZ: What a lovely pair you make! If you could see his big paw splayed out on your back, rucking up your skin and creasing the silk. Be careful, though! He’s perspiring, his hand will leave a blue stain on your dress.
ESTELLE: Squeal away, Inez, squeal away! . . . Hug me tight, darling; tighter still—that’ll finish her off, and a good thing too!
INEZ: Yes, Garcin, she’s right. Carry on with it, press her to you till you feel your bodies melting into each other; a lump of warm, throbbing flesh. . . . Love’s a grand solace, isn’t it, my friend? Deep and dark as sleep. But I’ll see you don’t sleep.
ESTELLE: Don’t listen to her. Press your lips to my mouth. Oh, I’m yours, yours, yours.
GARCIN: You will always see me?
INEZ: Always. [GARCIN moves away from ESTELLE and takes some steps across the room. He goes to the bronze ornament.]
ESTELLE [with a peal of laughter]: Forever. My God, how funny! Forever.
GARCIN: Well, well, let’s get on with it. . . .
When the valet explains Garcin what his existence will be like in hell, he hides his true form. He tries to get used to live in his room without knowing it has been designed to torment him. Moreover, he is surprised and does not expected hell to be furnished with the lavish style of a Second Empire drawing-room. I assume his reaction shows most human have the wrong deluded notion of what it is like in the afterlife. In this passage, I learned it is important for me to be honest to live happy life with people I love because some bad things would happen to me after if I lie and do not admit what I do.
Do you think the valet is being dishonest about anything? I think the valet’s responses to Garcin’s expectations are really telling–but they reveal more about Garcin than they do about the valet.
In this first part of the play I start to get a feeling that the room isn’t as it seems. Also, the main character Gracin seems to really make point to examine and judge the room within minutes of seeing it. Gracin even mentions that “he didn’t expect this,” which leads me to believe that he had some knowledge of this place and had his own idea of what it was going to be like. I believe this is where the play starts to show a theme of “you cant judge a book by its cover cause you never know what you are going to get.”
Do you think this is the most important point of the play for you? Might there also be a theme here about the characters’ expectations, and how those expectations are based on the ways they see themselves and others and how that then informs their behavior? I’m just wondering if you’d want to pursue a more substantial point made by the play–one that isn’t already a cliche or common saying–since most people already accept that as a truism.
Good point! I do feel like it is cliche however I also feel that its important because of the different perspectives it shows. For example, the perspective of the room form Gracin, then the analyizing of other characters in the room and then realization of the truth of oneself (judgement of self vs reality). Also I want to note the progression of the theme and how it starts with the basic judging of enviroment, then leading to others, then finally the most important the self. Does this make sense?
Garcin is being introduce to his room where is going to spend the rest of his life. Its pretty much an empty room which is his Hell. They go over the things that are in the room and he asks for his toothbrush because i believe that when you are alive you always want to take care of your body so thats why he wants a tooth brush and in hell you dont need that because you are died. He doesnt relize that he is going to be in that empty room for the rest of his life. He is not used to the loneliness.
It’s actually furnished with really gaudy furniture. That’s the second empire style. You can Google it to see what i looks like, and why would that be an element of his or the others’ hell?
That would be an element to his or others hell because it is not comfortable at all and that is where they had to sit of lay. It is like a piece of wood with nothing else
Yeah, the whole “some do [get used to it] and some don’t” line is very telling and supports your analysis–the furniture there does seem to be part of the more subtle, nagging, annoyances, like the heat, that Sartre seems to be suggesting is really the worse kind of torture, but then why is that? What’s it tell us about human psychology, maybe?
In this passage all three of them think that they are going to be tortured and burned because they are in hell. Little do they know that “hell is other people.” They all come into hell thinking what they have always thought of hell and it is nothing what they thought it would be. They are all there to make each other miserable. At first Garcin does not realize he is dead and he wants his toothbrush. Valet then tells him, “can’t you use your brains” (3). There is no point in brushing your teeth, just like there is no point in sleeping.
Hello Mackenzee I think this is totally spot on, it really foreshadows that hell is all the other people and kind of sets up the story. It makes it interesting because it shows where Gracin is and how he does not realize that he is dead.
Well, and also sets him up, like Estelle, as someone who easily denies his reality. He knows he’s dead, but he’s clinging to the idea that he’s alive. And how is his tendency to be in denial related to the way he lived his life and why he ended up in hell in the first place?
In this passage Garcin is explaining all of these things about “hell” and they can relate to it being related to all other people. This is significant because it keeps giving clues on what is going to happen and stars the process of new ideas throughout the story.
What IS Garcin doing here–he’s trying to show that he knows his situation (when he’s just shown that he doesn’t fully) and then he’s telling the valet what it feels like to die and wake up in this place with gaudy furniture and bad art, and then he’s telling the valet he knows it’s all part of the torture and that he “knows” what’s coming to him–how all of this is supposed to be his torture–why is his attempt to show he “knows” and is in control here showing us about him already, given what you read on in the play? Also, how is the idea of not ever sleeping particularly torture to someone like Garcin, really for all of them? Likewise never blinking–see the passage a few lines down for more on that theme–seeing forever without rest.
In this passage, this seemed interesting due to the line “Why should one sleep?” (3) This passage Garcin is explaining that in something that everyone does on a daily routine, all for rest to go by so fast and that people have to get up and do it all over again, its like saying that because the lives people live are so busy and that the enjoyment we ever get in life comes and goes in a heartbeat. The hustle and bustle in life he is saying almost steals the little time we all have for rest, so Garcin questions the point of sleeping all together, especially with being in their version of “hell”.
Yes–and below, he further elaborates on sleep–why is this particularly important for him–how related to what he says about blinking. He does seem to have a moment of realization or possible honesty here, which he later contradicts when he’s talking to the two women–he asks below “How shall I endure my own company?” What does this tell us–he says it’s a joke, but is it? Also, what is Sartre saying about humor here, too, especially for those in denial or constantly lying to themselves/others?
In this passage Garcin acknowledges that the Valet has yet to blink. He then goes on to talk about how this leads to no sleep and the consistent presence of your own company. I believe that this is a representation of the title (paired with the literal no exits), when you are unable to sleep you cannot escape yourself. With this comes the inability to quiet your thoughts, or even have a moment of silence. This is important later on because if you are unable to be in your own company for eternity, how could you ever be in someone elses.
We’re going to talk about this passage in class–it’s a super important one–notice all of the contradictions in this passage with the things Garcin later tells the two women–is he able to be more honest with the valet at this vulnerable moment of confusion/uncertainty? And what do we find out?
In this passage I think that the characters are slowly discovering that there could possibly be more people in situations like theirs. How this is significant is because the reason how they got to their rooms is due to the bad deeds that they performed when they were alive. This helps indicate that there are many more people just like them. In addition, the phrase, “ And what lies beyond them?” feels like it’s them who talks not only within the hell they are in but also talks about the good places where other people could be in. How this relates to the overall purpose by the end of the play is that since the play has several themes, I believe that it most fits with freedom. The desire to know what’s there in the other world.
Does he say there are other people? What is significant about his answer here? Nothing lies beyond but more passages, more rooms, more stairs?
Glass (or rather: *reflection*) plays a great role in this play. Inez claims you could recognize a torturer when you see them based on the fear in their expression, then states she knows this because she’s “often watched [her] face in the glass.” She used to be able to recognize her expression, but stuck in this room, there is no glass to see herself in. There’s no self-reflection. They’re unable to see themselves except in the eyes of other people. Their damnation is based off what their actions did to other people, as we can later on see. This small moment sets up Inez’s and Garcin’s characters in regard to their view on self-reflecting: Garcin’s unable to accept the lack of impact he had, whereas Inez understands humans only have meaning around other people and the lack of meaning her death had.
Yes, she comes off here as the more authentic/honest one, the only one who is able to actually “see” herself as she is, even when she looks in the mirror–yet, what does her initial comment about Florence also suggest about her “honesty”? Is she still lying to herself about herself and her feeling/treatment of others?
A theme of things not being what one had originally perceived is shown throughout the play. In the beginning, Garcin was questioning the valet about the room because it was very different than the stories he had heard. It wasn’t at all what he had expected because he formed an opinion on it before seeing it for himself. This theme is seen again in this passage when Inez mistakes Garcin for a staff member, assuming he must be one because of his frightened appearance. The saying of “never judge a book by it’s cover” is brought to mind when reading the passage.
But isn’t her assumption right? Is there some foreshadowing here? And what does this exchange reveal about Garcin and the way he wants to be seen versus the way Inez already shows she sees him? The theme of how the characters see themselves or want to be seen by others versus how others actually see them comes up over and over again and is key to their conflict/torture.
This is an example of how the characters continue to judge the situation or person without knowing the truth. This goes along with the theme I see in the play, “Don’t judge a book by its cover cause you never know what you are gonna get.”
Is it more than simply not judging a book by its cover–how do their assumptions about the others reflect their views of themselves, and how does this relate to their conflict with one another? Also, why does Estelle specifically think he has no face given what we later learn of her story, who does she think he is? This is similar to Inez’s first response when she arrives? Who do they assume their torturers will be and why? What does this show about them?
E.g. they don’t realize that the identity of the other person doesn’t matter–they will still treat others the same ways they treated others in life and those others will then haunt and torture them–but again, why is that?
I really liked the way that they introduced Estelle into this play. She really does seem like a very lively character. She really rules the room the moment that she walks in.
How is she portrayed–what kinds of roles is she performing, and why are these significant given what we later learn about her?
Estelle explains her love for flowers and how sadly they would not last where she is at now. He tries to be optimistic since her life isn’t what is was before. ” Oh, well, the great thing is to keep as cheerful as we can, don’t you agree?”(7) They all begin to think, how they are going to rearrange their lives down in their version of “hell” as they watch Estell’s ceremony and Estell paints a vivid picture on the events that happened during the ceremony.
What is this showing us about Estelle, especially given what we learn about her? Why all the focus on flowers, beauty–her focus on aesthetics? What is she using all of this to cover over?
I thought this passage was interesting because they are trying to not make it a big deal about what is really happening. I thought this passage was significant because it shows how they are trying to brush this off and say that everyone makes mistakes but it keeps repeatedly happening.
Or just continuing to lie to themselves about who they are and what they did and why they did it–and is that key to how/why they got here in the first place?
Estelle always want to be with older men that had money she always want to look pretty and when she got pregnant she killed her children because she didnt want to be a mother she always want to have a young life where she only cared about her self but she got sick one day with pneumonia and died. She is the most heartless out of the three of them. All three of them decided that they were going to each other tortures in hell all in the same room.
Hi Maria! I enjoyed reading your analysis of this passage. I do agree that she is the most heartless out of the three, she shows no remorse for what she did and her crimes were far worse. However I think that it is also important to note that she first tries justifying her actions by starting the passage with the negative parts of the life she lived. This is a method to make it seem as if her actions had a reason, as if they are justifiable. Overall though I agree with your analysis of the passage!
This is a great passage to point out! I found that your passage that you chose and what you said supported my thoughts on the theme of the play being ” you can t judge a book by its cover cause you never know that you are going to get.” At first Estelle appears to be a sweet and innocent soul but we quickly find out that she isnt as she seems.
I agree that in many ways, she’s the “ugliest” of the three and yet she covers that up with all of this beauty and depends deeply on having her beauty validated–how does this set her up to torture and be tortured by the others? Also, what are the various ways she lies to herself and to the others, and how does this put her in conflict with them?
In this passage the characters are now realizing why they are in this situation and that’s because of the bad deeds they have done when they were alive. The passage also gives an impression that they deserve to be there because they are “ criminals-murders”, starting from the passage.This is significant because it not only tells the characters but also the readers why they are put there and it gives readers a better description on what type of people they are. How this could relate to the theme, I feel that it could be tortuous and punishment. Once again, I feel that this play portrays so many themes that I could only choose a few on relating it to this passage. What I think about when I see this passage is three people gathering together and having an intense discussion with one another. I respond to it as I did because I approached this passage as a reader and less as putting myself in the shoes of the characters because seeing this type of information really helps me as a reader where this plot is going.
Do you think part of their hell is to never again be comfortable with their lies that they try to tell about who they really are? Inez is a key figure in this, because unlike Estelle and Garcin, she makes no pretense toward politeness and refuses to validate people’s false images of themselves (it’s interesting to think about how often relationships depend on people telling others what they want to hear about themselves). Inez clearly doesn’t do that, even with her own self, but then what is her issue? When and how are they torturing her?
In this passage Garcin sort of contradicts what he said in the first one I chose. When he is confronted with the presence of others nad the inability to escape their presence he suddenly decides that his. own company is enough. Each person in the room is getting irritated by another, and they decide that silence is better than communication. This is important to the theme of the play because it gives subtle hints on the overall purpose. Each person believes that “hell” is somewhere you go to get tortured brutally for the rest of your existence, however their “torture” is far from conventional.
great response i agree because they think that torture is something that something does to them when they go somewhere else and then to find out that they are each others torture and they are not going to able to stand each other it is going to be their hell to be there altogether in the same room and no way out.
What is Garcin trying to do here? What does it show us about him? And also, what does it show us about their particular form of hell? You could tie it back to his initial attempt to be polite with Inez where she tells him, his face is still being impolite, which is pretty funny–could they ever possibly be alone together? And also, remember what he said earlier about being alone with himself without sleeping or blinking for all eternity earlier on–his “joke”
I think this passage is interesting because Estelle and Inez both start to bond a little over their struggles in their afterlives. Estelle can no longer use a mirror to fix her makeup, so Inez helps her and acts as her mirror. Inez being her new “mirror” symbolizes their new found friendship. Inez will help Estelle with the things she can’t see and be there for her, but Inez expects the same from Estelle.
Yeah, but what is Inez really doing here and why? How does it give us a clue about how she will be tortured by the others? What does she already know about Estelle and how/why is she trying to use that here–and then how does Estelle actually respond and why? Toward the end of your highlighted passage, she comes right out and tells her, what she’s doing and why. Do we believe her?
Inez states, “Why, you’ve even stolen my face; you know it and I don’t!” She’s making the argument that Garcin has taken everything from her, including her own identity. I made a point earlier on how our identities only exist around other people, and Inez is stating Garcin stole hers: she’s a proud, independent lesbian, so of course her identity feels threatened around a man. This scene stresses the importance we place on who we are, when the whole play stresses the meaninglessness of the idea of ‘perfect self’. “No Exit” is about how we each play the role of ‘yourself’ around other people.
I loved this statement and I feel that it strongly supports the fact the struggle with identities around certain people can be impacting. If she is a lesbian who plays a more masculine role, it can also be a threat to be around another man. Since a straight man can see a masculine woman still a woman no matter what identity they portray. I also agree with your last sentence with what “No Exit” is overall and it is true that people are who they surround themselves to be that everyone plays a certain role within different relationships of their life.
Yeah, she sees him as competition and recognizes Estelle will only ever want his attention/validation, and Inez’s won’t really matter to her at all. What do Garcin and Inez want–actually the relationship between our desires and hell/torture could be a really good theme to explore in the play. How does what each character want set them up to be tortured in this situation?
Garcin refers to the group as “newborn babies” because they are in a new place with new people whom they know nothing about. It’s like they were reborn again and have to start new. Garcin is suggesting that they all just be honest with eachother and be “naked” since they have nothing more to lose.
Yes, but can they do this, that is start over being honest to themselves and others about themselves? What does this show us about them?
As Garcin’s confession, he has done something unacceptable in his marriage that he slept with many women as a philanderer whether or not his wife knew about affairs. Although he confessed what he has done in his life, he seems to not know what brought him to hell. It is understandable he is locked in the Second Empire drawing-room and hopefully he will realize he has lived selfish live and how his wife felt about it during this opportunity.
How do you think what he did to his wife is related to his cowardice? And what does he want from the other characters? How did he treat his wife versus how Inez treated Florence? And how does this set up their current and future ways of torturing each other?
All three of the characters are learning now that there are things in this hell for all three of them. they will always be tortured by the things that they have done and they will have to “live” with that forever. They are all torturers to each other. They have really tried not to be but it is inevitable in the situation that they are in.
I really liked the passage you chose and I agree that they are torturers to each other. The whole time they are trying to figure out what connection they had that brought them together, not thinking that it was to torture on another.
What does each one want from the other two? How is that related to their torture? Both Garcin and Inez show more of their hands in the exchange above–and then we find out what Estelle and Inez want here and how that relates how they will torture each other.
Inez is explaining and trying to get Estelle to believe that nothing is hers on Earth anymore and she is now in hell. Inez is gay and she gets her lover to cheat on her husband and she does not really love her. She manipulates her. Inez states I, “am yours forever” (20).
Inez **is** trying to manipulate her, but I think it’s more complicated than that. Estelle reminds her of her girlfriend, and she mentioned before she’s frightened (in a very roundabout way, but nevertheless). Truthfully, I’m annoyed on Inez’s characterization and villainization. I wish we could’ve seen a more sympathetic parts of her, because she acts like a creep from the start and treated like the all-evil. She was gay in a dangerous time, and I wish we could’ve understood more of her fears.
Yes–I agree–she’s not portrayed as sympathetic at all, and you could even see how Sartre is pathologizing her queerness in complicated ways that are also super disturbing.
And… the glass shatters. We identify ourselves through other people (they are the reflections of ourselves) and Estelle makes the point on now that everyone knows who she truly is, her curtain’s been revealed, there’s nothing left of her. We find our worth through other people’s opinions on us! That’s why there’s no glass in the room, nothing to find your reflection on, because we find who we are through our connections, the people we surround ourselves with, and their actions reflect back onto us and vise versa. The three of them are each other’s torturers’ because they’re the only ones around and they make each other worse with every second.
Is it that she finds her value in other people’s opinions or that she needs others to validate this false idea of her as beautiful and good. On some level she knows she is neither, but that just makes her want more for the others to mirror back this false, beautiful image of her, and obviously, once they know enough of who she really is, they can no longer do that, so she will be perpetually tortured by the truth of herself that they reflect back to her. But then this begs the question: what about Inez–what does she want from the others and how is that desire thwarted. I think Garcin shows that he wants Inez to see him as brave, but she’s never going to do that, and he knows Estelle is willing to reflect back whatever he wants her to reflect back, if he plays along and makes her feel good and beautiful again, so he puts no value in what she reflects back to him. But how is Inez thwarted, and is this related to the troubling portrayal of her queerness in this play?
Garcin askes Estelle to give him her “faith” that he will “love” and “cherish” her if she trusts that he is not a coward. As she says “She could never love a coward.”, it seems like she has still the gender roles and the stereotypes and expected men should be strong, aggressive, and bold. I am glad that she realizes it does not matter if he is a coward or not and says “Anyhow, I’d love you just the same, even if you were a coward,”
I totally agree with you however, i dont feel that she realized that it doesn’t matter as much as she just wants to be with a man. She made it very clear that she is not interested in women and since it is only Garcin and Inez in the room i think that her only choice is Garcin. I feel that she was willing to say whatever she needed to in order to get him to ” trust” her.
Yes, Inez calls her out on her lies at the end of this highlighted piece–and on some level Garcin totally knows this too, which is why he ultimately needs Inez to see him as brave–note that he too is buying into the gender stereotype/expectation that a man should be brave and strong and should fight for his country when called upon, etc… He buys into this idea as much as the two women do, so the gender role isn’t being questioned here at all, nor is the importance of male bravery. And it’s fascinating how much his torture is dependent on buying into this gender role, isn’t it. What might Sartre be saying here about the ways we buy into arbitrary definitions or categories or expectations to the extent that we then torture ourselves over these–and never mind how unimportant his cruelty to his wife is in his own mind–that doesn’t seem to torture him at all–again, this is all very telling as to why he’s in hell in the first place but also how he already made his and other people’s lives hell when he was still living.
This pretty much sums up the nature of their hell
Why are they all scared of leaving?
What does this show us?
they have all finally lost their sanity. Garcin is begging to get out, Estelle is begging him to stay other wise she will be going with him and Inez is begging Estelle to stay. They have all tortured each other so much that they have pushed each other to the end. However, when the door opens and the opportunity is there to be able to leave, none of them take. they have realized that as bad as it is in the room that they are in now, they are comfortable. they now know each other there and they don’t know what lies beyond that door.
What’s the irony here following his explanation of Inez above–why will he never “convince” her?
In this passage I see some character development as in they are slowly being able to try to convince each other by having faith in one another and this hellish of a mess they made. The significance of this is that when we see these character developments then we are able to see the plot of the story take a different turn. How this relates to the overall point of the play is that at the end of the play it is shown them laughing together and this passage is just the beginning on how it created that laughter by showing some development in the characters. They are less suspicious of each other and seem that they could talk to one another. From this scene I see that they are arguing about each other’s assumptions such as being a “hard-headed woman” and a “coward”. The reason why I responded to this as I did is because in the beginning they are very untrustworthy of each other and then are very uncomfortable that they are living with criminals and murderers. Yet, this scene helps them lay out their differences and try to understand each other.
Wait, but does he actually convince her of anything by the end of this exchange? How does it end? And are they resolving their conflict or just continuing the torture here–what are we seeing Garcin do in his explanation of himself, and why does Inez basically tell him that of course he could be judged by that one action no matter what else he did to play the hero? She says he can’t prove he’s not a coward now because of those actions. She basically tells him he is all of his actions together–and never mind that his life doesn’t just show that one act of cowardice–Inez knows that too–remember their exchange about his wife. She’s not buying anything he’s selling no matter how much he needs her too–why he ends up going back to calling her a “poisonous woman” and threatening to kiss Estelle to spite her–how is this moment the climax of all three characters’ torture and an indicator of what their eternity together will be like.
In this passage Garcin states, “A man is what he wills himself to be” (26). This is an important line because he believes that he has to be a manly man, brave, and that men need to be courageous. Although he thinks that this is how a “man” should be he does not believe that he is manly. This is an example of having freedom I think because he believes he has no freedom in not being “manly.” In life before death they made it there own hell before actually even going to hell.
The passage you chose and your explanation show how self-disciplined Garcin is. In my perspective, I do not want him to be strict with himself that each person has its own personality and he does not need to force himself to change it.
In this passage it shows how Gracin is trying to make Inez push through because they are so close, it shows how much of a leader Gracin is and how important it is to keep moving forward. This is significant because it really shows what kind of character Gracin is and that is important to know because of how big of a role he plays.
Inez thinks that Garcin is a coward because he brought home so much women even when his wife was at home. But Estelle only wants men to see her as a beautiful woman and she wont say anything to him. She wants to be with him and she will never let beauty go that is something that she will always have.
Well, he’s primarily considered a coward by both Inez, but ultimately himself, because he dodged the war and tried to leave the country. But his womanizing and picking on his weak and passive wife is definitely another sign of his cowardice, insecurity and selfishness. We’re seeing why they’re in hell but also how their lack of honesty about who they really were and how they treated themselves and others shows they were already in hell through their lives, and they’re going to keep doing the same things to themselves and one another for all eternity. They’re stuck in their patterns and lies. I think one of Sartre’s points is we don’t really need hell or torturers or punishment when we live our lives this way. We already have those. For many, there can seem to be “no exit” from these patterns of behavior, which is also how he defines bad faith.
Hi Maria, I agree with what you stated. Estelle is having a hard time without having any mirrors to look at herself in. Garcin is a coward because he cheated on his wife, and he lied to Estelle and Inez about why he was in hell and Inez knows that he is lying. I think that they need to realize that their lives were hell before even coming to “hell.” There is no exit for any of them because they having been living this life long before “hell.”
I think that this passage is really important because Garcin realizes that “hell” is not what everyone visualizes it out to be. He does not believe that he is really in “hell” because he did not picture it being like this but he no knows that it is hell. He states, “the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the “burning marl.” Old wives’ tales! There’s no need for red-hot pokers” (28). He was in denial that he was in hell but all the things that were thought of hell were never true. He realizes that, “Hell is other people!” Hell is how we see ourselves and other people and our own perceptions of ourselves/others. They are dead and in hell and are trapped in other’s interpretations.
Yes, primarily, hell is the way other people continue to disrupt the lies we tell ourselves about who we are and how we appear to them. They will always be watching him, especially now without sleep and the lights always on, and letting him know what they see and how that contradicts his own false narratives about himself.
Another example of how something seemed to be one way from the outside however after discovering the truth it wasnt at all what it appeared to be.
That’s an intriguing point being made but a very truthful one as well. I feel that you fully understood the theme coming from this passage and why it is the way it is. I agree with you that we expect things to turn out one way but we become off, and it doesn’t take the turn that we what or expect to happen.
This is also showing us the way humans tend to limit their own perspectives and perceptions–in each case, what informs the way they see the thing initially and what does this show about the limits they create for themselves and how these limits affect their existence?
Satre is a world-renowned existentialist philosopher so this entire play is right up his alley. This whole scene is humorous the characters are participating in something violent and graphic but since they’re dead they can’t comprehend it as anything but funny. The character’s in pop culture like Deadpool who’s gifted with enhanced healing cut his own head off for laughs, I believe Sartre is highlighting how absurd the idea of undeath really would be. Throughout the play, we’re told about the concepts of hell and so on and so forth but I believe Sartre in this passage is telling us that hell is a state of mind rather than a place once are characters realize they’re dead they laugh because they are free to spend unlife doing whatever they pleased.
Well, does it matter that they’re dead or alive–what’s the real difference in their situation in hell? Is it simply that they can’t lie to themselves and others about who they are without constant disruption? Why does that make it hell for these particular people? And here’s an even more important question. If they were honest with themselves and others about who they really are, act in accordance with their true desires, and didn’t so strongly need others to validate their false image of themselves, would they have done the things they did in life to get them into hell? What is Sartre’s point here?
At this point everyone has realized that they are dead, and that their existence is now eternal, neverending. They first find this amusing but as they realise what that entails the laughter dies. A little bit earlier than this passage the purpose that “hell is other people” has been revealed. Everyone discovers that they are never going to be given a torturer, instead they were assigned to do so to one another. I believ that this is the most important part of the play because it challenges the stereotypical concept of what “hell” really is. Instead of eternal pain, its eternal misery (emotionally). They are suffering silently in their minds and have no way to escape that. This is the true meaning of the title “no exit”. They are unable to leave the room, however they are also unable to escape the annoyance and exhaustion they consistently face.
I believe you’re right Hell is a state of mind by realizing they’re dead. Then they have liberated Sartre and his lover Simone Beauvoir often wrote about how existence suffers due to the outside influence of others and is a constant fruitless battle against outside oppression. Satre thought it was a pointless endeavor, his rival Camus believed it was through embracing the irony of it and living in spite of it that one could ultimately find purpose.
Yeah, except that because of the presence of the other two people each person’s suffering is not in silence, not something that can be denied, escaped, or veiled over, but is actually always out in the open as is the fact that they are their own causes for their suffering–their dishonesty, their desires, and the ultimate lack of value they place on the authenticity of self and other.