No Exit, By Jean Paul Sartre

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Existentialism is a relatively new philosophical concept, which flourished soon after the end of World War II. It is focused around a belief that existence precedes essence, meaning that there is no meaning of life, other than the one each individual assigns during his own lifetime. In the play No Exit, Jean Paul Sartre explores this philosophy through a triad of individuals whose lives and post-death experiences reflect a range of existentialist ideas and their contradictions. The three characters, Garcin Inez, and Estelle, are all stuck in a second empire style room, in the depths of hell, where they have the opportunity to together reflect on all they have ever done. However, it is the behavior they assume in hell that reflects existential philosophy, not their experiences on earth. Sartre’s play No Exit, oozes with existentialist ideas from choice of setting, to personal torture and a representation of each key concepts of this philosophical movement. The most important part of the whole play is Sartre’s choice of setting. Hell is a taboo concept in society, often pictured as a general idea rather than a specific place. In No Exit, hell is not “hellish” at all; it is, at first glance, a second empire style room full of extravagant furniture and fancy decorations which, on Earth, would have been synonymous with the perfect lifestyle. When the three characters walk in for the first time, they think it is a joke and are positively surprised with the beauty of their room.

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