The Nature of Bad Faith

Topics: Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism, Agamemnon Pages: 4 (1419 words) Published: April 22, 2008
The Nature of Bad Faith
Jean-Paul Sartre was a French novelist, existentialist, and philosopher. Throughout his life, he created several important writings. One of them is his Play: The Flies, where he depicts his philosophy and ideas. The Flies relates the story of Orestes, son of King Agamemnon, who returns to his native city fifteen years after Aegistheus murdered his father. In the play, Orestes meets his sister Electra, who has waited for his arrival in order to avenge their father’s death. Eventually, Orestes kills King Aegistheus and his own mother, Queen Clytemnestra. Therefore, he and his sister see themselves confronted with the Furies, the goddesses of remorse. Only Orestes is capable of resisting their influence. However, this play has a much more profound meaning embedded within it. For instance, Sartre wrote it as a reaction to the German occupation of France. He also included much of his philosophy, and existentialist point of view. Existentialism makes an emphasis on the concept that “existence precedes essence”(Kaufmann 295). In addition, Sartre’s existentialism states that man is always free, and completely responsible for himself. In his freedom, man is faced with several choices, choices that may cause anguish, anguish that we must face (294). “It is when we flee our responsibilities, when we deny our freedom and our anguish, that we are lying to ourselves”(Lafarge 102). Accordingly, when we lie to ourselves, we fall into bad faith: a central concept in Sartre’s play. However, by taking responsibility for our actions, and remaining true to ourselves, we are in good faith. Thus, The Flies depicts several examples of bad and good faith, which Sartre embodies in most of the characters and situations of his play.

In The Flies, bad faith can be clearly appreciated in the character of Electra. As we can see, during the play she earnestly desired to take revenge on Aegistheus. She wandered in the palace, condemning him and wishing the arrival of...
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