Jekyll and Hyde

Topics: Existentialism, Human, Africa Pages: 4 (1679 words) Published: June 28, 2008
Jean-Paul Sartre writes, in his essay, "Existentialism", that an individual's responsibility extends not only to him or herself, but also to all of humanity. He believes that we must take this into account for every decision we make. This extra accountability can cause distress for an individual because of the pressure that it brings. In Lorraine Hansberry's play, Les Blancs, Tshembe is faced with an important decision that will not only affect his own life, but the lives of his whole nation. Although none of Tshembe's decisions are without struggle, and irresolution, he reacts to the controversy before him by making choices in accordance with Sartre's definition of "good faith," despite the anguish it causes him. To properly address the decisions of Tshembe according to Sartre's beliefs of human reality we must first understand that denial of God, as an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-determining being, is fundamental to the concept of existentialism. Since there is no divine spirit that determines the nature of humans, it is humans who conceive their own nature. Without a deity to create and establish our beliefs, humans must turn to themselves to give life meaning and values upon which they will base their decisions, and ultimately their lives. We are born into the world without any previous persona, conscience, or value system. It is each person's responsibility to establish his/her essence, or the characteristics of his/her existence. (Sartre 3-9) This essence is created through a compilation of decisions. According to Sartre, a person is nothing more than a collection of the decisions he/she makes. A person's only existence is within him/herself and within his/her reactions to the world around them. "There is no reality except in action. Man is nothing else than his plan; he exists only to the extent that he fulfills himself; he is therefore nothing else than the ensemble of his acts, nothing else than his life" (Sartre 5). A person creates...
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