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Friday, March 4

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    Plot Synopsis
    BadSartre uses his play No Exit, as a means to explain his philosophy of Bad Faith. Bad Faith
    occurs when a person perpetually lies to themself about who and what they are. They cannot face the truth about the facts of their lives or a particular situation, so they make believe something different, as an attempt to avoid the painful reality.
    The setting of the play is hell. However, it is not hell as we would commonly think of it. Hell seems to be something of a hotel and a valet escorts each of the three main characters into what appears to be a Second Empire style drawing room. There room is very sparse, three sofas and a few items on a mantel piece.
    The metaphor of hell as Bad Faith becomes clear as the characters begin to get to know one another. Initially Garcin and Inez refuse to even accept the fact that they are meant to be there. Each character keeps thinking there must be some mistake. However, it is not, and as the play unfolds, the hidden reality of each character manifests itself. The extent to which they are all dammed to hell, through an avoidance of self-honesty and a reliance on approval from others becomes clear when Garcin finally manages to get the door open and none of them leave. They are in such Bad Faith, meaning they still rely on each other for definition and justification means that even when the chance to escape hell (Bad Faith) emerges, they cannot leave.
    Joseph Garcin
    Joseph Garcin presents himself as a hardworking journalist, a pacifist, a self describe “man of letters by profession” (8). Once arriving in hell he seems to be perpetually obsessed with sorting his life out, to trying to get everything in order. This seems to be a silly task for someone who is already dead.
    His initial story of his life is the perfect example of Bad Faith. He ignores and glosses over all of the real shame and misconduct in his life and paints a rosy picture. He says he worked for a pacifist newspaper, when the war broke out (WWII) he naturally refused to fight, and was shot for it. However, as time goes on, we learn that he is a chronic adulterer. Not just an adulterer but completely made his wife aware of it. This he justifies by the fact that she never said a word of complaint, according to him.
    However, what is really eating him inside is the fact that he feels like a coward. That is why he is constantly listening to the living; trying to hear what they say of him. In actuality, he deserted the war, got off the train and rain away from the army and they shot him in back, twelve times. That is a coward’s death and he wants to believe that he wasn’t a coward.
    Inez Serrano
    Inez comes across crass and bold. She is a lesbian who seduced a married woman and subsequently murdered her husband. She is the only one who seems to have accepted her fate and tries to force the others into realization as well; fate “Look Here! What’s the point of play-acting, trying to throw dust in each other’ eyes? We’re all tarred with the same brush. […] We’re in hell, my pets; they never make mistakes, and people aren’t damned for nothing.” Because she is honest from the start about who she is, and what she has done, she metaphorically becomes a mirror for the others (19 literally for Estelle); she reflects to them their true selves; forces them to face their inner lives and realize what they’ve been lying to themselves about. In a literal manner she actual does play the role of a mirror for Estelle when she tries to check her make-up, as she becomes frantic that there are no mirrors in hell.
    She perpetually calls the others out on their falseness and pretenses. For this reason Estelle becomes to hate her and Garzin begins to love her. Garcin needs someone to tell him he’s not a coward, and knows that only Inez is can tell him the truth. Inez, who desperately longs for Garcin’s affection, sees Inez as a threat to ‘her’ man.
    Estelle Rigault
    Estelle is the epitome of Bad Faith. She can’t even handle or accept the fact that they are dead and ask that instead of calling themselves dead, they refer to themselves as “absentees” (12). She is obsessed with being proper: proper attire, proper make-up, even demands the sofa which matches her clothes. This lack of awareness forces her to perpetually seek definition from outside herself; shown in a constant need for material things. She needs the affection of man to complete her identity. Because she lacks any inner identity at all, she needs to have her sense of femininity reinforced by a male companion. As a natural result, she spends most of the play worrying about seducing Garcin.
    Her initial story is a rose colored as Garcin’s. She presents herself as a married woman. One who married an older man when she was too young. She eventually fell in love with another man, yet refused his requests to run away with him, “then I got pneumonia and it finished me” (16).
    However, as the actual story unfolds, it turns out that she indeed did have an illicit affair with that man. Furthermore, she conceived a child with, and subsequently killed it, as he watched in horror and anguish. The shock of this forced him to kill himself. Estelle never manages to own up to her guilt and is destined to live in perpetual Bad Faith, covering the truth with a prim and proper exterior.
    The End
    The ending is the final testament to the fact that the characters are stuck in Bad Faith. The door to the room, which has been locked the entire time, finally opens. Garcin stands there and doesn’t know what to do. He can’t leave because he says he needs Inez, as she has become his bastion of truth and light. This shows that he still hasn’t come to a place of inner harmony. He still cannot provide himself with a sense of worth; he will always be waiting to hear from her that he is not a coward.
    Likewise, Estelle can’t leave. She needs self-justification through a male has as a result has become so attached to Garcin (and causes her to hate Inez) she can’t leave if he won’t; and as we showed above he won’t leave if Inez won’t. Their inner deficiencies have crippled them. They can’t even escape from hell when the door to leave is wide open.
    Inez is interesting. She seems to be the only one not living in Bad Faith. Interestingly it is because of this; because she knows that she’s dead, there is nothing left, she has no desire to leave. “ Dead! Dead! Dead! Knives, poison, ropes- all useless. It has happened already, do you understand? Once and for all. So here we are, forever.” (46).
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    YouTube.com Videos of the Play
    Performance of the end of No Exit
    No Exit
    Drama Class project of No Exit
    Reference
    Sartre, Jean-Paul. No Exit, and Three Other Plays. Vintage International ed. New York: Vintage International, 1989.

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