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Soul shattering screams, hell fire that lashes constantly at you from all directions, and a torture only befitting of your sins, our common perception of hell. What if hell were simpler? Within No Exit Satre displays hell as a place, were three people are placed eternally in a room together. They each in turn irritate and aggravate one another, thus making themselves hysterical, and producing each otherís eternal torment. In addition to a door that will not open, and living in a windowless room, all three characters possess no eyelids, and thus are unable to sleep. For relief, they conspire with one or the other, but that merely plunges them further into the inevitable distress of Hell. Throughout the play, the dramatic irony that occurs between Inez, Estelle, and Garcin serves to advocate the existential concept hell is indeed other people, along with the absurdity of life.
Firstly, Sartre's strong association with the existentialism philosophy is exemplified in No Exit. It is a portrayal that life in Hell is just the same as life on Earth, perhaps the only difference being that their travesties are magnified. As the lives of Inez, Estelle, and Garcin continue in Hell, their main torment is the one thing that they were never able to achieve on Earth. So due to the consequences of their actions, they eternally suffer in Hell. This presents a contrasting view to one tenet of existentialism, something which Sartre was heavily affiliated with. If there were no ill consequences, on what grounds would people be sent to Hell? Or even Heaven for that matter? This new view brings to light the absurdity of life. What did Garcin do in order to be sent to Hell for all eternity? He was just a coward who claimed to be a Pacifist. And that is something he chose to do in life; an action that relied on his free will. The dramatic irony is that he must endure the embarrassment of his mortal life all over again in his immortal life, merely for exercising his free will. Through this, Sartre not only insinuates the absurdity of life, but also the bleakness that humanity serves. At the beginning of the play, Inez asks Garcin if he is the torturer, from which Garcin replies that he no such thing. From this, Garcin is blind to realize that she is the torturer, merely mistaken for a casual human being. Such dramatic irony enriches the existentialist views inspired in the play. It creates the perspective that you're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't.
Living a life that wasn't meant to be lived by you completely falsifies your identity. This was Garcin's case, and his torturer was Inez, who knew in truth that he was a coward. Inez, the cold, apathetic clerk, had Estelle as her torturer, and Estelle would only surface unrequited love. Estelle, the femme fatale, remained tortured because she could never get Garcin to love her, as he is the only man within her reach. With Inez tormenting Garcin, Garcin tormenting Estelle, and Estelle tormenting Inez, each without realization that they are each otherís "Satan", a strong irony is presented. This irony affects the reader in such a way that they learn it is not people which create our madness, but more the way we feel toward them. Madness cannot root from other people's actions, but it can root from the effects of their actions.
This is exactly the reason why believers in existentialism are apathetic to life, as they are never angered by other people's actions, but essentially mad at their effects. Take for example, Estelle. She is a woman driven mad because of Garcin and his failure to tribute any of his masculine attention to her. Estelle is not mad from his actions, but more so at the effect of his actions on her. If she were apathetic to his apathy, all would be fine. And if Garcin were apathetic to Inez, and Inez to Estelle, Hell would be brought down, and existentialism would triumph. Sartre subtly praises the existentialism philosophy in this, as he is basically saying, we should all be apathetic and all will be fine. And looking at it from a whole, this is the root cause of our angst from others.
In conclusion, No Exit is a play that presents that hell is indeed other people. Satre does this by simply using three characters who pledge not to torture the others in any way. Yet in the end fully embody the roll of each otherís torturer even if they arenít quite aware of it, due their lack of apathy towards the others.