‘No Exit’ Review

Korin Elhadad, 12th Grade

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In his play, No Exit, Jean-Paul Sartre writes “to forget about the others? How utterly absurd! I feel you there, in every pore. Your silence clamors in my ears. You can nail up your mouth, cut your tongue out—but you can’t prevent your being there. Can you stop your thoughts? I hear them ticking away like a clock, tick-tock, tick-tock, and I’m certain you hear mine.” Sartre has a unique sense of perspective and choice of words. The play is essentially about a man names Garcin who goes to hell — yes, hell. When he arrives he is perplexed by the lack of physical torture, and for a while he almost forgets where he is. He is taken to a room by the “Valet” and even without being told, Garcin knows that he will spend the rest of eternity in this room. Later, Garcin is joined by a woman named Inez and a few hours later, a woman named Estelle. All three of them are condemned to spend eternal hell with one another in that room for what they did (and in some cases didnt do) in their lives. Drama ensues, eventually it is revealed why each of them has been dammed and the three characters explore the thought of fate.

For the three characters, “hell is other people.” But the play produces much bigger ideas: What is hell, if you believe in it? Is anything accidental, or is it all planned out perfectly? What Sartre does so brilliantly is that he is capable of creating a fascinating story that captures readers that includes several deeper layers of complexity. Relating so much to today’s world, where the mere existence of heaven and hell, free choice, fate and what it means to be a good person are debated. The play, overall, is an exemplary instance of how to make a simple event or situation (but by no means “normal”) into a wider scope that the masses can connect to and with. From Garcin, Inez, and Estelle, and from Sartre through diction and plot, readers are able to ponder what life itself is, what comes after, and what is really important.

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‘No Exit’ Review