Tragic Character No Exit

Topics: Existentialism, Tragedy, Tragic hero / Pages: 5 (1035 words) / Published: Dec 4th, 2011
According to Aristotle, the function of a tragedy is to purge pity and fear out of a person. The tragic hero of a tragedy must have certain qualities that can contribute to this function. Inez Serrano, a character from Sartre`s play No Exit, not only exhibits those qualities but also demonstrates Sartre`s own existentialist philosophy. Inez is the perfect example of tragic character because she does not change throughout the play and above all, she knows why she was put in hell. While it is true that her bad fate is the result of her own actions, Inez is a much better person than Estelle and Garcin for admitting and realizing her errors. Her honesty continuously puts her in a bad place with the other two characters. Right at the beginning of the play, Inez is the first to note that the three of them have been placed together as part of a larger plan. Nothing, she claims has been left to chance. “I tell you they 've thought it all. Down to the last detail” (Sartre 14). Nonetheless, Estelle is convinced the whole thing must be a mistake - including her even being in hell. She married a man older than she, fell in love with another, and refused to leave her husband for him. Is she to be punished for her fidelity? Garcin likewise claims never to have done anything wrong: he opposed a war on pacifist grounds and refused to fight in it. For that, he was shot. Where is the logic, therefore, in his being sent to hell? Inez, however, maintains that “they never make mistakes” (14) and that “people aren 't damned for nothing” (14). This is exactly the kind of attitude that makes her fit Aristotle`s characterization of a tragic character. She is not only true to herself but is very blunt about the whole situation to the other characters as well. She is the same person from the beginning to the end and never once undergoes a volte-face in opinions or thoughts. Inez knows they all committed ineffable errors worthy enough to put them in hell and tries to explain that to the

Cited: Sartre, Jean-Paul. No Exit and Three Other Plays. New York: Vintage Books, 1946. Print.

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