Freedom And Freedom In No Exit By Jean-Paul Sartre

1412 Words 6 Pages
Though brief and comedic, Jean-Paul Sartre’s play “No Exit” offers insight into the basic ideas of his philosophy about freedom vs confinement. Sartre is able to portray the applicability of this philosophy to daily life though the commonplace setting of the work and the diversity of the basic character types found throughout the play. The main principles behind this one of Sartre’s philosophies are detailed through the three main characters, Cradeau Inez and Estelle, and their confinement to a Hell where the concept of freedom is both twisted and misleading.

Beginning the play, Sartre introduces the character Cradeau, the first to enter the Hell Sartre had created; entering the setting where he was to be confined. As Cradeau enters the
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Immediately Sartre has characterized Cradeau as a coward through his use of a frantic and hesitant tone when describing Cradeau’s actions as the boy begins to leave the room. For although having been already assured that there would be no hellish tortures awaiting him Cradeau still fears being left alone in a seemingly harmless place. And as Sartre’s play progresses, it becomes clear that this cowardice is Cradeau’s driving force; for he strives to be free from being viewed as a coward. As a result, Cradeau is confined by his need to be brave, to not be viewed as a coward. And so when the room’s other occupants,Inez and Estelle, arrive Cradeau looks to them for assurance of his bravery, Sartre states: ”Cradeau: Of course. Well, Estelle, am I a coward? ESTELLE: How can I say? Don't be so unreasonable, darling. I can't put myself in your skin. You must decide that for yourself.” Here Sartre has conveyed a sense of ironic freedom, revealing that Cradeau will never be truly free from his cowardice, for he will always know the truth of his character. As a result, …show more content…
Estelle is one such example of this exception, upon her entry into the play's setting Sartre writes: “Estelle: ...But these divans are so hideous...But I shall never be able to sit down on it! It’s frightful.” (13) Through this Sartre has effectively portrayed Estelle as a shallow, and superficial character; knowing she is dead Estelle still shows more care towards her physical appearance than her damnation to Hell. This image of Estelle is further solidified as she describes her funeral to her “Hellmates” Sartre States:” Estelle: She’s doing all she can to cry. Oh come on try a little harder than that…”(14) This lack of real emotion shown towards her grieving “loved ones” further solidifies Sartre’s characterization of Estelle as shallow and superficial. As a result of her superficial personality, Estelle eventually expresses her need for a mirror, Sartre writes:” There are six huge mirrors...How empty is a mirror if I can’t see myself in it.”(23) this reliance on a mirror for self-assurance portrays another aspect of Estelle’s shallow personality,her lack of confidence in anything other than her physical appearance. As a result, she becomes susceptible to manipulation for in a way Estelle is like a mirror. It is repeatedly emphasized that to cement the reality of her beautiful external appearance, Estelle looks to the other characters in the play for

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