Existentialism in No Exit

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In his play, No Exit, Jean-Paul Sartre examines basic themes of existentialism through three characters. The first subject, Garcin, embraces existentialist ideas somewhat. The second character, Inez, seems to fully understand ideas deemed existential. Estelle is the third person, and does not seem to understand these ideas well, nor does she accept them when they are first presented to her. One similarity amongst the three is that they all at some point seem to accept that they are in Hell for a reason. Garcin admittedly is in Hell because he was unkind and unfaithful to his wife. He however, does not wish he had acted differently, for he says, “I tell you I regret nothing (p. 24).” In this respect of acknowledging and owning up to his actions, Garcin is following existentialist laws. However, he sometimes violates them. For example, he is so preoccupied with the idea that he is a coward that he demands the women to renounce this and declare his masculinity. He is so dependent upon this that he refuses to engage in sexual activity with Estelle until she affirms him. This is anti-existential because according to its principles, he should not have to rely on others for confidence. Inez is in Hell because she had seduced her cousin’s wife, then conspired to make his life miserable, until he finally stepped in front of a tram and was killed. Inez also brought a lot of guilt upon her lover, Florence, until she finally committed suicide and killed Inez by poisoning them with gas during the night. Inez does not refute or regret this, as she states, “…I was what some people down there called ‘a damned bitch (p. 25),’” and “You know, I don’t regret a thing (p. 25).” She also states, “…I prefer to choose my hell…(p. 23),” which advocates the principle that everyone has a free will. She gives a good example of the concept that mankind has a free will, and that few...
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