The door swings open, and Inez taunts Garcin that he can now leave. However, he finds he doesn’t want to, and the women hesitate as well. Estelle tries to convince Inez to leave so she and Garcin can be alone, but Garcin says he will stay because of Inez.He is totally consumed with how she sees him and desperately seeks her approval. Garcin vows that he will not leave the room unless Inez pronounces her faith in him. She does not, and Garcin, unable to exercise his freedom, instead chooses imprisonment. He concludes, “Hell is—other people!” We can see quite clearly from this that the characters in Huis Clos give each other the ammunition by which to destroy themselves. They both resist and rely on each other. Garcin initially begs for the women to be silent but then finds himself depending on them to validate him as a man. In declaring her love for Estelle, Inez provides Garcin with all he needs to torture her. Estelle clearly needs both Inez and Garcin to make her feel beautiful, like a woman. She wants Inez to be her mirror and craves physical affection from Garcin. Their relationships in Hell are warped and twisted, mirroring their warped and twisted relationships on earth. Even in the afterlife they cannot escape the people they once were. Garcin is still a coward who refuses to take responsibility for himself, Estelle is still vain, shallow and craves affection from others while Ines is still cruel.
The play's central themes of freedom and responsibility come from Sartre's doctrine that "existence precedes essence.". Sartre believed in the essential freedom of individuals, and he also believed that as free beings, people are responsible for all elements of themselves, their consciousness, and their actions. That is, with total freedom comes total responsibility. He believed that even those people who wish not to be responsible, who declare themselves not responsible for themselves or their actions, are still making a conscious choice and are thus responsible for anything that happens as a consequence of their inaction. The fear and anxiety of this responsibility leads many people to ignore both their freedom and their responsibility by letting other people make their choices for them, resulting in bad faith. This is why Garcin is unable to leave the room when the door opens. He can't handle the responsibility of confronting his decision to flee his country, and thus leaves it up to Inez to judge him and define his essence. Similarly, Estelle does not think that she exists unless she looks in a mirror, seeing herself as others do. When Inez pretends to be her "mirror" and says Estelle has a pimple on her face, Estelle's bad faith causes her to accept someone else literally creating her essence. Both Estelle and Garcin are not only "condemned to be free," but are willing to condemn themselves in order to avoid being free. This emphasis on bad faith establishes Sartre's underlying argument of the play: "Hell is other people." Using only three people and an empty room, Sartre evokes scenes of utter torture and despair. In effect, Inez can't stand Garcin looking at her because she thinks that he is automatically judging her. Since she thinks that is her own role, she accuses him of "stealing" her face. Garcin's mere existence thus reduces Inez's feelings of autonomy. Moreover, both Garcin and Estelle refuse to let go of their pasts, each "looking" at their friends and loved ones back on earth. They attempt to justify their existence by only thinking about their past experiences: as Garcin explains, his "fate" is the evaluation of his past actions by other people. Inez however, sees her past as meaningless and inaccessible, choosing to exist in the present instead. She insists to the others that "nothing" is left of them on earth and that "all you own is here." Rather than justify her existence in terms of the person she used to be, Inez asserts her freedom to choose her essence in the present, even though she is in hell. She is the only character in the play intent on confronting both her responsibility and her suffering--an essential step is asserting her existence. As Sartre explained, "Life begins on the other side of despair." Sartre’s use of hell as a dramatic device in this play is beyond genius. It gives him the perfect platform from which to discuss his philosophical beliefs. He effectively explores bad faith, the intensifying gaze of the other, the rights and responsibilites that come with human freedom and self deception by simply sticking three characters into a locked room together. Whats more is he enables himself to communicate and engage with his audience. He keeps them interested in whats going on. Sartre never allows the audience to become mere spectators, he constantly provides them the opportunity to participate in the psychological drama as it unfolds.
Sartres Acts for life pg73