Alright, dear readers, imagine being led by a strangely stand-offish butler to a room without any idea of what's going on. You are the first to arrive. Then enter two people of the opposite sex, but not together. The room is in a strange old style and no one knows what you are doing there. In talking to the other guests, you discover that one repulses you and the other attracts you. And naturally the one that repulses is attracted to you, and the one to whom you are attracted finds the third member attractive and you repulsive. All of you argue.

Huis Clos (most likely better known and understood by E2-ians as No exit) is, simply, hell. They come to this room not knowing why or what or where or even when. They don't want to be there, they don't like one another, and in the end, they realize that they will ALWAYS be there. For ever...

Sartre (1905-'80; he turned down the Nobel Prize) puts into question our existences and what comes thereafter, all in a play, that can easily be read in an afternoon by the pool in North Carolina. (ok, that's just me...)

More info:

Written in 1943 in about 2 weeks time for three actor friends.
Became one of the key plays in existenialism.

In German : "Geschlossene Gesellschaft"

No Exit is also an amazingly famous play by Jean-Paul Sartre. It has only 4 actors, 3 of them playing the only major roles, and it all occurs in a room in Hell. The 3 main characters are shown into the room by the 'bell boy' of hell (what a nice job to have), and all of them are expecting different forms of the flames and eternal torture we've come to expect from Hell. The room has very modest decor, and is something none of them would expect from Hell. However, their opinions are swayed when, through the course of the play, they find that they despise each other. The most famous quote from the play comes from the realization that this is their punishment: "Hell is other people"

The philosophical idea behind Huis Clos is that all three persons in the room have lived other lifes than they have let people believe.
Garcin, for instance, claimed to be a war hero. He was very much involved with the resistance and even edited a paper for them. Everyone loved him for that. The fact is that in reality, Garcin ran away for the enemy when friends needed him. This is the reason why he ended up in the room/the hell afther he died.
First he can't believe he's dead, but he sees his funeral through some kind of window in the floor. From time to time a boy (simply named garcon {=boy in french} because he stands for some kind of conscience)comes into the room, making the extistence in the room even more unbearable, because he points them at their shortcomings in a subtle kind of way.
During the story, the window in the floor closes up and garcon stops appearing, so the persons are really cut from the earth and from life. Left all by them selves with their guilt and shame for all the times they lied about who they really were.

Jean Paul Sartre is telling us by this book that one has to do what one has said. One has to avow one's errors. At the end you are what you have done.The characters in the book ended up in hell for it.
The worst hell one can imagine: spending an eternity with yourself and the knowledge you did it all wrong during life and you can't turn that back anymore.

Jean-Paul Sartre's play No Exit is one of his most highly regarded and widely known works. In it, Inez, a lesbian from World War II-era France shares a room in Hell with Garcin and Estelle. None of them knew each other from their previous lives, however they have been specifically chosen to spend eternity together.

Inez is an intelligent and witty woman. She is perhaps the most real character in the play, and as such quickly comes to fully comprehend the situation they are in. She does not fool herself about her life, but is honest and realizes that if Garcin and Estelle were really the people they claim then they would not be in Hell with her. She also most quickly realizes that everything in Hell has a purpose, and that there is a very distinct reason they were chosen to be together. As she explains to Garcin, "It's obvious what they're after-an economy of man-power-or devil-power, if you prefer. The same idea as in the cafeteria, where customers serve themselves. I mean that each of us will act as torturer of the two others." As the play runs its course it becomes obvious all the different ways in which they are each the perfect torturer to the others. Their personalities clash so wonderfully as to cause one another suffering and anguish even when they try not to.

Mirrors play a fundamental role. Mirrors are more than just the silver-and-glass objects they appear to be. Or, rather, they serve a higher purpose than reflecting mere photons. They show us what we are and let us preserve our sanity, essentially. Mirrors make us less dependant on one another for our sense of self, enabling us to be more than just what other people think we are. Without mirrors to allow them to see themselves, the self-images of the players in our tale must be based purely on what other people think of them. They know how they WISH to be seen, but since who they are is based on each other's perceptions, they must accept what they are dealt. Estelle NEEDS to have a man find her beautiful. Inez can ONLY find happiness when she feels loved by another woman. Garcin died a coward's death, and now badly wants for someone to believe that he is not really a coward at heart. This strange triangle of needs works to keep everyone from ever being happy, causing nothing but constant anger and fighting. This desirous imbalance is, of course, due to very clever planning on the part of The Management.

Estelle continually pines after Garcin to find her beautiful and love her. She cannot see her own beauty in a mirror, and so she needs for someone to reflect to her what she wants to see. In return Garcin wants her to believe that he is not a coward. However, as soon as they try this arrangement Garcin realizes that he cannot love Estelle as long as Inez is present. Any time Garcin gets close to Estelle, Inez chimes in taunting him with his cowardice, which she despises. In this manner Garcin is denied his wish.

In life, Inez was despised by society and considered an abomination. Her only happiness ever came from the love of another woman, love which would allow her to see herself as more than what society thought of her. Inez badly wants Estelle's love for herself, but this idea disgusts Estelle, and so Inez is denied her wish. She blames Garcin for Estelle's refusal, and so this puts them at odds.

In order for Inez to feel complete, like a person, she needs for a woman to consider her beautiful. To this end she is necessarily a sadist. In order to get a woman to appreciate her physique in a sexual manner, Inez needs to manipulate and fiddle with the mind of her "prey." During her confessional with Garcin and Estelle, she tells of how she used the tragic death of her cousin to guilt-trip his wife into becoming and staying her lover. "I used to remind her every day: 'Yes, my pet, we killed him between us.'" The kind of affection Inez desires is taboo in the world she is from, and so she is forced by necessity to TAKE it instead. Manipulating another person implies some form of control over that person. Having control over someone requires having a way of harming them if they do not comply with your wishes. This renders the person performing the manipulation a sadist by definition. Inez uses her control over others to force them into seeing her as she wishes to be seen, giving her a feeling of acceptance and happiness.

Inez initially becomes a masochist in response to Estelle and Garcin threatening to shove her out into the corridor. “Estelle! I beg you, let me stay. I won’t go, I won’t go! Not into the passage,” she exclaims. Her mind is filled only with thoughts of self-preservation, by any means. Her sadistic personality is no longer able to get her what she wants, so she changes. She begins to beg and plead for them to allow her to remain in the room. After the door is once-again closed, Inez tries to use guilt against Estelle. Every time Garcin and Estelle touch Inez is there, ready to make a pained sound. She knows that by expressing her pain she will continually remind Garcin that she is there watching, knowing he is a coward. As long as he is aware of her he is unable to believe he is not a coward, and so he cannot love Estelle. “She is between us. I cannot love you when she’s watching.”

Throughout the play, Inez’s level-headed and brutally honest sense of reality allows her to clearly comprehend her situation and to see the others for who they really are. She is the voice of Sartre, continually stating existential truths and bringing Garcin and Estelle back to reality. She knows why she has been damned, and so she has made peace with the world and it no longer bothers her. All that she cares about is extracting what she needs from the other occupants in the room. And she is skilled enough to do it, for all time.

During the German occupation of France in World War II, the Parisian theater-goers found solace and pride in witnessing the works of two outstanding French dramatists: Paul Claudel, whose remarkable drama Le soulier de satin was masterfully staged by Jean-Louis Barrault in 1943; and Jean-Paul Sartre, whose two plays Les mouches and Huis clos were presented, the first by Charles Dullin in 1943 and the second by Albert Camus in 1944. In both of Sartre's plays the French saw direct references to two of their contemporary preoccupations: the quest for liberty, and the problem of having to live in the stifling atmosphere of a Hell created by the Others.

The author was born in Paris on June 21, 1905, of a well-to-do middle class family. His father, a naval officer, having died in 1907, Jean-Paul was brought up in his grandfather's home until 1917, when his mother remarried. It seems probable that Jean-Paul was influenced by his grandfather, who adored him. He was a professor and a writer-Sartre also became a professor and a writer.

After having brilliantly pursued his studies first at the Lycee of La Rochelle and then at the famous Lycee Henry IV in Paris, in 1924 Sartre entered the Ecole Normale Superieure. There he specialized in philosophy, passed his licence (roughly equivalent to an M.A.) and was, in 1929, received first at the agregation de philosophie (a very difficult competitive examination administered by the government to recruit professors).

Sartre's teaching career began at Le Havre. From there he was sent to Laon and finally to Paris, at the Lycee Pasteur. When the World War broke out in 1939, he was mobilized in the Ambulance Corps, was taken prisoner by the Germans in June 1940, and spent ten months in captivity. Liberated in 1941, he took up his teaching again at the Lycee Pasteur.

Apart from La nausee, a novel published in 1938 (Le Havre, under the name of Bouville, is the setting for this work), Sartre had already written several philosophical works, articles of literary criticism, and a collection of short stories (Le mur, 1939). In 1943, he published a monumental work entitled L'Etre et le neant to explain his philosophy (influenced by the German thinkers Heidegger and Husserl) which he called a philosophy of existence, or existentialism.

In 1945, Sartre resigned as professor of philosophy in order to devote himself entirely to his writing. He founded a review: Les Temps Modernes; traveled extensively; and became through his novels (Les chemins de la liberte, three volumes of which have appeared since 1945-L'Age de raison, Le sursis, and La mort dans l'Ame), his plays (Morts sans sepulture, 1946; La putain respectueuse, 1946; Les mains sales, 1948; Le diable et le bon Dieu, 1951; Kean, 1954; Nekrassov, 1955; and Les sequestres d'Altona, 1960), as well as through his numerous philosophical and literary essays, the leader of a new philosophical generation. After the Liberation of France, Sartre was undeniably the most famous French writer and since then has become an international figure. As a witness of that phase of European thinking which prevailed after the War, characterized by an uncompromising sincerity, a lack of complacency, and a total rejection of hypocritical postures and false values, Jean-Paul Sartre is today without a peer.

Sartrian existentialism is an atheistic philosophy which postulates that in man existence precedes essence. There is no universal essence of man, which an individual must strive to attain and conform to. On the contrary, man is a free being who creates his own essence as he lives and who, since he is free, is capable of choosing for himself just what kind of man he wants to become. Since he is a free agent (he is, in fact, condemned to be free, says Sartre), from his birth to his death, it cannot be said that man is anything until he has ceased becoming, i.e. when he is dead. At that time, but not until then, he will be a Hero, a Coward, a Saint, or a Rascal, according to how the Others see him. For it is only through the eyes of the Others that Man can see his image; and what the Others see of him is only his acts. Man's acts are therefore of prime importance. Through them he engages himself in the world about him; this engagement, in turn, creates his essence and, at the same time, creates his image in the eyes of the Others.

This explains why existentialism speaks so often of man's anguish. He knows that his acts are all-important, that they depend upon the choices that he makes, that he cannot give excuses for his choices and is therefore responsible for them. His anguish arises from the knowledge that Death may cut him short before he has realized what he feels to be his true essence. He may have had the intention of becoming a hero all his life but, confronted, as is one of the characters in Huis clos, with death by a firing squad, he may be overcome by physical weakness and die as a coward. The Others will know of him only that he died afraid, and not that he had the intention of dying bravely. As long as the Others will think of him, he will thus be a Coward.

When Sartre speaks of the self, he distinguishes the etre-en-soi, the in-itself, from the etre-pour-soi, the for-itself. The latter he characterizes as fluid, free, always in flight toward the future. This is our conscious, living self which is always in a state of becoming and therefore never at rest. The etre-en-soi, on the other hand, is the static, solid, non-conscious self. For example, our past life is an en-soi, since it is what it is and can never be changed. In like manner, all objects are en-soi: a table is a table, a chair is a chair, a rose is a rose, etc.

According to Sartre, most individuals would like nothing better than to avoid having to make choices and, thus, to abandon their liberty, to be at rest, or, in other words, to be objects. However, since they are alive and conscious, they must keep on being pour-soi. What they are striving for, in fact, is to be an en-soi-pour-soi, a self which would at the same time be free and fixed, fluid and static, conscious and non-conscious, object and subject. This, says Sartre, is manifestly impossible. (This is what he refers to as man's useless passion to become God). What happens frequently, however, is that an individual who denies his liberty and yearns to be an en-soi lives in a middle state between fluidity and solidity, a state described in Sartrian literature as viscous, dough-like, marshy, etc. The person who lives in such a state takes on its physical characteristics, for example Estelle in Huis clos.

This yearning to escape one's liberty and responsibility is termed bad faith by Sartre. He who turns to Authority (whether represented by the Church, the Family, the State or Society) rather than to his own self for guidance, when confronted by a choice, is abdicating his liberty, therefore his authenticity, and at the same time passing on to the Others the responsibility for his acts. Such a person is forever finding excuses for the essence that he is in the process of creating, and ascribing the responsibility for it to everyone but himself. In reality, he and he alone is responsible; for even when he is choosing to let the others choose for him, the choice is still his.

Man is, therefore, a free and responsible being who must, in a Godless world, create his values for himself. Sartre rejects the Christian doctrine of creation, redemption and salvation and, of course, eternal damnation. The traditional image of Hell, as a place where the damned go to suffer torture for their sins, is in Sartre's opinion a false image, a myth. The only punishment there is, is that meted out to the individual here on earth by the Others. They see him not as a free self but as a static one, an object. They label him as being this or that, thus denying him his liberty of becoming something else. Since an individual needs the Others in order to know what his image is, he is at all times suffering the torments of the damned. He can, at times, escape momentarily these torments by shutting his eyes, by sleeping, or through love. He can also, by looking at himself in a mirror, try to see himself as the Others see him and thus escape for a while the necessity of the Others.

Suppose that it were impossible for the individual to use a mirror, or to seek refuge in sleep, or love. He would then be in an absolute Hell. This is precisely what happens in Huis clos.

Sartre has written that the ideal play should be a brief one, centered around a single event; it should deal with only a few people and take place within a short span of time; it should use only one set, and on that set the characters should be engaged in intense argument. This ideal, closely akin to the classical concept of the theater, has been realized in Huis clos. We have here one long act, separated into live scenes of varying lengths, which lasts approximately one hour and a half. There are only four characters, one of whom plays a minor role. The three main protagonists are Garcin, a pacifist who wanted to be brave but died as a coward and who is responsible for his wife's death; Estelle, a nymphomaniac who killed her own child and caused the death of her lover; Ines, a lesbian (perhaps the most authentic character in the Sartrian theater since she assumes full responsibility for her acts) who drove her friend to suicide and murder. They are not nice people-but nice people do not go to Hell!

Sartre places them together, for eternity, in a hot, ugly room where there are no mirrors, no useful objects to distract their attention, no means of escaping from each other's glance. Sleep is impossible, not only because the light burns incessantly but also because their eyelids will gradually become atrophied. Love is out of the question: the only possible combination, Estelle - Garcin, will be foiled by Ines' presence. Thus there is no chance of the three co-operating to change their Hell into a Paradise. Though they try, at first (with the exception of Ines) to lie to one another, as they lied to themselves while on earth, they soon realize that now they have lost their freedom. They are the image that the Others have fashioned and they are powerless to change that image, for their acts can no longer be changed. All they can do is ... continue, as Garcin says at the end of the play, continue the absurd and infernal existence of being simultaneously torturer and tortured.

Let us remember that, for Sartre, the traditional Hell does not exist. What he is describing in Huis clos is, in reality, the torment of those beings who, on earth, live in self-deception (Garcin and Estelle) or who have chosen to lead a life contrary to the general welfare (Ines). Their punishment is not in the hereafter but in the here and now.

No Exit is a one-panel comic drawn by Andy Singer. The amazing wit and freshness of his comic can be ascertained by the fact that he takes the title from the amazingly relevant play by Jean-Paul Sartre. Using the title of a play by a French Existentialist shows that you are a true existialist intellectual, ready to rebel against the commonly held beliefs of society.

And rebel he does! He is sure to challenge your thinking. Did you know that America is a militarist, consumeristic, hypocritical society that loves SUVs more than genuine human emotions? It may seem like a wild, far fetched idea, even to the readers of the left wing periodicals that Andy Singer runs his comic in, but apparently there may be a downside to the American Dream. For example, in one cartoon, there is a caption "successful man" above a picture of a man in a car, talking on a cell phone. Below that, is a picture of "unsuccessful man", who has neither car nor phone. I thought at first that this was just stating the obvious, that a cell phone and a car are signs of success. But then I realized that there might be some irony behind it, and that Mr. Singer might be pointing out subtly that there may be more to life than just buying stuff with money. Many of his other panels give us just such insight into the fact that life in America might not be all that it is cracked up to be.

With all of the problems that life and politics in America presents, I am sure that as soon as the skillful satire of Andy Singer becomes more well known, a wave of consciousness will sweep our country, washing away the prejudices of the past.

Hell is other people.

No Exit probably ended with a threesome. I mean it's not such a far stretch...

You put a hot, nervous, clingy woman in a scorching room with a lesbian and straight guy who are both vying for her affections for all eternity, and someone's going to suggest it, probably Garcin, and it'll be a joke (sort of) at first and both girls will recoil. Then there'll be an awkward silence, maybe for a millennia or two, but on a long enough timeline, everyone goes bi... or at get horny. And if your choices are masturbation or threesome you're eventually going to get curious. Besides, there are no consequences in Hell.

Now I'm sure the management thought of this (as it's probably been happening room to room), so they probably have a safety or something... but what about the human spirit? Sooner or later our Sisyphus rolls the rock of women's chastity and monosexuality to the top of his hill for his moment's respite.

Observe the final line:

Garcin: Well, well, let's get on with it...

(might as well have been "let's get it on")

It seems Sartre's editors forgot the rest of the line: "bow chicka wow wow..."

"One must imagine Garcin happy."

Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit is a one-act play, which consists almost entirely of dialogue. No Exit's plot is driven entirely by hyperrealist character interaction and several recurring philosophical statements. These statements are introduced in the first few pages, alongside the play's characters and setting. No Exit begins by defining the physical setting: a valet brings Garcin, the only major male character, to a drawing room in Hell. It is here where Garcin (and several other tenants who have not yet arrived) will be spending all of eternity. Understandably, Garcin has many questions concerning the living conditions. Baffled by Hell's casual appearance of a Second Empire drawing room, he anxiously makes inquiries concerning the apparent absence of torture instruments.

Here we observe the first example of one ongoing motif: assumptions and memories the characters developed during their lifetimes that are maintained in their afterlife. The valet quips that all residents ask similar kinds of presumptive questions: about torture instruments, where they might sleep, and about the absence of everyday objects on earth, such as toothbrushes (Sartre 4). This motif of assumptions and expectations is a manifestation of a major statement Sartre makes in the work: people often try to comprehend the present by recalling their personal pasts. Garcin learns from the valet that the lack of beds should not have any effect on him, as in hell he no longer requires sleep. 'Why should one sleep?'(5) enquires the valet, who does not sleep himself--nor blinks his eyes. These conditions exemplify one of the play's dominant philosophical statements: that 'life without a break' (5) is detrimental to one's ability to function rationally. Garcin insists to the valet that respite exists in solitude, memory, and waking life; and he is troubled in accepting a fate that does not provide for these: "Don't let's quibble over words. With one's eyes open. Forever. Always broad daylight in my eyes—and in my head." (7)

The valet soon returns with Inez, the second character to arrive and likely the most troublesome—and philosophically pivotal—of any we will encounter. Upon arriving, she immediately begins to rant about her dead lover: Florence, whom she describes as "a tiresome little fool" (8). In this rambling dialogue, the play's statement of perpetual reminisces—as though they still hold some significance, even in eternal damnation—is introduced. Inez bickers with Garcin excessively until the next guest is introduced—an action typical of her demeanour. Estelle, the final tenant to arrive, also bears old memories of life. She compares the drawing room's furniture to that owned by an Aunt of hers, and says that it makes her "think of New Year's Day". The party soon begins to converse about how and where they lived their lives, and try to determine whether or not they had at some point crossed paths. Garcin begins to take off his coat; but Estelle—whom he has insulted in this action—requests that he replace it, and Garcin complies. Even in hell, Estelle cannot relinquish old irritabilities to vexing trivialities.

After much discussion concerning the rationale for their everlasting congregation, Inez concludes that they have all been selected to exist in death as one another's torturers. Even more, she suggests that it is of economic benefit for the maintainers of Hell to uphold this system of torture. Garcin suggests that, in order to prevent themselves from subjecting each other to eternal torment, they hadn't converse or interact ever again, "Like soldiers at our posts" (18).

This decision marks the play's long-delayed first turning point, its inciting incident. All that transpired prior to their vow of silence serves chiefly to introduce the audience to the characters, setting, and themes. With this inciting incident, the first objective of the characters is established: to make life in hell more bearable.

Unfortunately, Garcin's ideal of braving the afterlife starkly contrasts to Inez's. Breaking the silence, Inez begins singing a song. Estelle (who is meanwhile attempting to occupy herself by putting on make-up) asks Garcin for a looking glass; however, as he is not speaking, Inez seizes the opportunity to offer her own. Rummaging through her bag, Inez realises that it had been taken out of her possession—there are no mirrors in hell. Indeed, upon his initial examination of the room, Garcin noted an absence of mirrors and other reflective surfaces in the drawing room—however, a bronze mantelpiece fixedly gazes upon the tenants eternally (46).

Desiring to apply makeup but having no way to observe herself, Inez suggestively acts as Estelle's "mirror", by offering advice and guiding her hands at times (20). This interaction is in many ways an allegorical summary of one of the play's societal and psychological statements, and is a recurring motif. Estelle, having no way to observe her own external appearance, accepts Inez's offer to act as a mirror. However, Estelle's makeup is not applied in accordance with her own aesthetic preference, but Inez's own beauty ideals. Inez even teases her by telling her that she has a blemish, when she does not.

This device reminds us that the characters do not have any method of objective self-reflection in hell, physical or mental. The aforementioned lack of solitude impairs the characters" ability to meditate upon themselves—Garcin earlier spoke of the pleasure of rest and respite. Without the opportunity to break from other people, all observations must be made through their own thoughts and words. This is a particularity dangerous scenario to be in, as Inez explains: "Suppose the mirror started telling lies? Or suppose I covered my eyes—as he is doing—and refused to look at you, all that loveliness of yours would be wasted on the desert air. No, don't be afraid, I can"t help looking at you, I shan't turn my eyes away." (21)

Estelle is quickly made uncomfortable by Inez's demeanour, which is both promiscuous and goading. Inez expresses romantic interest in Estelle, but she would rather not acknowledge it. Estelle asks Garcin for help—and distraction from Inez—but he continues to fruitlessly maintain his own method of self-preservation though isolation.

It is only after relentless badgering from Estelle and Inez that Garcin realises that his attempt is in vain, and finally to abandons it. Garcin drops all previous demonstrations of moderation: he now accuses Estelle of 'making eyes' at him, and reminds her that during his life he "used to be mad about women" (23). Contrary to his previous desire for solitude, Garcin now expresses a new desire: he wishes for the party to more openly expose their personas to one another, and also attempts to court Estelle:

"..presently we shall be naked as- as new born babes … Well, I'd warned you, anyhow. I'd put my fingers in my ears. Gomez was spouting away as usual, standing in the center of the room, with all the pressman listening. In their shirt-sleeves. I tried to hear, but it wasn't easy. Things on earth move so quickly, you know. Couldn't you have held your tongues? Now it's over, he's stopped talking, and what he thinks of me has gone back into his head. Well, we've got to see it through somehow…. Naked as we were born. So much the better; I want to know whom I have to deal with." (24) This marks the next crucial turning point in the story, the pivot. The characters have fully realised the penal severity of their living condition. Now, they shift their focus to exploring each other's vulnerabilities, and utilising this knowledge for their own benefit.

The tenants, for the first time, begin to unveil the grim circumstances surrounding their own demises and damnation: Inez murdered a man and committed suicide; Garcin was executed for abandonment and condemned for adultery. Only Estelle exhibits reservations in explaining herself.

Garcin and Inez resort to acting as the aforementioned allegorical lying mirror, in an attempt to expose Estelle. The two accuse Estelle of myriad outrageous sins. Estelle projects some of these accusations upon the reality of her damnation, and is disturbed by those that are false. The harrowing combination of her reality and the nightmarish suggestions of her two roommates pressures her into revealing the past: Estelle bore a child in an adulterous relationship. She drowned the child, and her lover subsequently committed suicide; Estelle died without her husband ever learning of these things.

Having heard the stories of all of her roommates, Inez says to Garcin (who initiated the conversation), 'now you have us in the nude all right' (29), referring to emotional exposure and thus vulnerability.

Vulnerability is a major subject of the play. Indeed, one of its statements may be that unrealised vulnerabilities only intensify with suppression. Inez is constantly reminding both the audience as well as the other characters of this. As Inez recites her involvement in the murder, she describes the victim as having been 'vulnerable'. After hearing this, Garcin impulsively insists that he himself is not. Inez grimly rebukes this claim, and referring to her lover in life, saying to him:

"Don't be too sure… I crept inside her skin, she saw the world through my eyes. When she left him, I had her on my hands." (26)

Reaction to the elevating intensity of their conversation, Garcin once more removes his jacket without thinking. However, this time Estelle excuses it. This tolerance signifies that Estelle is become more comfortable with him (though perhaps only due to his juxtaposition with Inez), and that she no longer dogmatically clings to prejudices as she did before. This foreshadows that Estelle is harbouring a growing romantic interesting in Garcin.

At this point, we are gradually eased into the next turning point: the complication. Inez, through supernatural clairvoyance, sees her house on earth being sold and herself forgotten. Immediately afterwards, she loses any power to (gaze upon earth). From this point onward, Inez more often exhibits her strictly fatalist outlook on the party's condemnation. She believes that the demonic overseers of the afterlife have predetermined all interaction to occur between the members of the group; and that for all of eternity they will torture one another. Garcin tries to persuade her not to cling to such ideas, rationalising that if she does not, "you'll bring disaster to all three of us." (31) Inez stubbornly refuses to believe that this is a possibility, due to their certain fate of everlasting suffering. Inez's attitude will last the rest of the play. Meanwhile, Estelle sees her husband on earth courted by another woman. Inez warns her, "nothing on earth belongs to you" (32); for Inez has already come to terms with the idea of letting go of earthly memories and dwellings. There is no comfort for her in her own life, and attempts to persuade Estelle and Garcin that they are the same. The sins that led to Estelle's damnation are revealed to her husband, and she loses her sight of earth—she is forgotten.

The play's complication is announced by the characters being forgotten—one by one—on earth. Although the characters realised the necessity of finding a way to maintain sanity during the progressive complications of the first turning point, only during the second—the pivot—does a new objective become clear: to cope with being forgotten by all, for the rest of time.

For Estelle, one method of coping with this is by clinging to Garcin, and attempting to maintain a romantic relationship in afterlife. She turns to him for comfort, but Garcin reminds her that she ought to be looking to Inez for solace, as she has expressed philanthropic interest in Estelle since her arrival.

Estelle completely rejects the idea of being comforted by Inez; she seems to require the affection of Garcin in order to feel like she is appreciated by another human being. Her moral character can explain this desire. In life, she surrounded herself with men—multiple men—and found great social satisfaction in this situation. Earlier, Inez acted as a mirror, reflecting Estelle as its subject. But she is not only subjected to others through this allegory, but throughout her entire life. In her life, her lovers were the mirrors, and reflected Estelle's self-image much more positively. She still craves this reflection, and has already realised that Inez's pessimistic outlook will not be able to provide it for her. It is because of this that Estelle attempts to altogether purge the idea of romance from Inez's psych: by spitting on her face.

Garcin realises that, although her affection is outwardly centred upon him, Estelle seeks another man merely to fill the place of her lost lovers: "No humbug now. Any man would do your business. As I happen to be here, you want me," he proclaims (35). He argues that he himself is not the sort of man she would usually be attracted to, to which Estelle replies, "I'll take you as you are. And perhaps I shall change you", thus exemplifying a yearning to reclaim what she has lost in death.

The two settle on an mutual understanding: that Estelle would hardly care for most things Garcin thinks about as he sits in solitude, and that Garcin is emotionally incapable loving her. Based on this, they decided to engage in a primarily physical relationship. The agreement is certainly a potentially anomic basis for a relationship.

These curious terms can be best explained by the character's personalities, and the thematic bases for them. As previously mentioned, Estelle seeks only to recreate her past, to gaze into a mirror and see only that which she desires. If Garcin possesses unappealing traits or emotional neglect, she will simply refuse to see it in her reflection.

Garcin's rational is extremely similar; however, instead of basing his self-image on the compliments of others, he chooses to focus instead on their criticisms. When Inez acted as a mirror, Estelle chose to block her out completely. Contrarily, Garcin often chooses to listen to her criticisms and fatalist rationalisations. Therefore, when he decides to engage in a relationship with Estelle, he fully realises the improbability of being able to truly love her. He even finds it necessary to say this aloud, because he feels his thoughts must be clear and rational. Estelle listens to him carefully, but entertains the possibility of romance arising regardless.

Just as they are about to finally kiss, Garcin psychically sees something on earth, which arouses his attention: Gomez, a former co-worker of his, berates him posthumously. It is followed by other visions of his past friends considering his abandonment cowardly. Because he clings to criticism as a medium for self-reflection, Garcin is disturbed these images. Finally, he sees the death of his wife, and his life is eternally forgotten. He is haunted by the idea of being remembered as a coward.

Desperate for rectification, he begs Estelle to convince him that he is not a coward. She complies, as earnestly as possible. Inez, the negative reflection the allegorical mirror motif which projects upon others, exposes the insincerity of Estelle's statement. Estelle admits to her insincerity, and Garcin is completely distraught by the idea. Searching for an escape, he futilely tries to open the drawing room's locked door.

To everyone's surprise, it jerks open suddenly; it provides at last an exit from the room's torment. The final turning point's objective—to cope with the knowledge of eternal disregard—is quickly jerked into a new direction. The door opening is perhaps the play's most obvious turning point, as it provides the plot with a violent twist, as well as a climax. However, Garcin refuses to leave the room; and a new objective arises: to face his own insecurities. Garcin chooses to stay behind and confront Inez, instead of departing defeated. Meanwhile, Estelle begs of him to help shove Inez out the door, in order to rid them both of a source of intellectual anguish: Estelle would rather ignore her than face the reality of her criticisms, as Garcin does.

Inez's pessimism leaves Garcin emotionally defeated. Searching frantically for some soft of defence mechanism, Estelle begs him to kiss her, to arouse spite in Inez; as her desire for Estelle marks her one Archilles Heel. However, Inez realises what they are trying to do, and defends herself:

"It's no use trying to escape, I'll never let you go. What do you hope to get from her silly lips? Forgetfulness? But I shan't forget you, not I! It's I you must convince. So come to me." (45)

Garcin asks her, 'Will night never come?', expressing the play's running theme of entrapment (46). Inez reassures him of his certain fate.

Accepting this, Garcin reflects upon the ever-gazing, ever-judging bronze mantelpiece. He then proclaims, "Hell is-other people" (47). However, although Garcin has at last been defeated and settled on a belief in destiny, Estelle still rejects the idea. She attempts to murder Inez with a paper-knife, only to realise that she is already dead, and thus, invulnerable. Concluding the play, Garcin addresses the party and says, "Well, let's get on with it" (47). All of the turning points" objectives are resolved in Garcin's admittance of his fate. Although Garcin does not 'defeat' his insecurities, he circumvents the necessity to do so by admitting them. This is something he certainly was not willing do in the play's beginning—or in life—when he insisted to Inez that he was not vulnerable. However, Inez eventually defeated his attempts to reflect upon himself him rationally and positively.

Inez represents the conscious admittance of self-criticism, and in many ways act as a "reflector" character—constantly providing new perspectives for the characters. She does this through bitter honesty, with not only Garcin and Estelle, but herself as well. Inez is the only character that has gazed upon her own self-image in the mirror, and she even says this upon first arriving: "…I know what I'm talking about. I've often watched my face in the glass" (9). Earlier character goals, which dealt chiefly with coping with the realisation of their own faults and grim histories, are also resolved. All of these objectives—the need to cope with being forgotten, the exposure of their vulnerabilities, and the necessity of braving eternal damnation—mark the play's series of progressive crises. They are ultimately made irrelevant by the admittance of an objective, inescapable reality.

The play is not left resolved completely, however. Garcin's proclamation that "Hell is other people" is really an attempt to blame others for his own vulnerabilities. Just as the cast could not dismiss their earthly expectations of hell when they were first arrived, Garcin still cannot realise his own bias, which drives him to search only for self-criticism in other people. Any summarisation of No Exit, which proclaims that the play's underlying statement is "Hell is other people", is grandly misled; as the quote reflects only upon Garcin's character. Estelle certainly does not feel this way, as she seeks escape from suffering through Garcin. Inez also fails to express this attitude: though she is bitter and interacts almost exclusively with others through constant berating, she never reflects negatively up on herself because of Garcin and Estelle.

The play's fundamental statement is contained within its allegorical mirror motif: one must not find in self-reflection only their vulnerabilities or desires, nor the explicit criticism of others. Instead, the goal of self-reflection is to find a subjective reality that aide in one's ability to understand their true self, and others. However, this must not be done not explicitly through criticism, as it is by Inez. Thus, No Exit's ironic ultimate statement—to live and let live—is much more philanthropic than any of the drawing room's tenants might have lead us to believe.

Node your homework, courtesy of SUNY Purchase.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. No Exit and Three Other Plays. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1949.

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