No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre

A brief one-act that seems much longer than it really is. Alternately horrible and funny, it’s Sartre’s take on Hell, which can be described as such: a small hotel room with no windows or mirrors, a door that is usually locked, and three couches. Three people – Garcin, Ines, and Estelle – are all brought to this room by what I can only guess is a bellboy. (I read this in French, so forgive any factual errors that I missed as a reult of that) Everyone keeps asking, “Where’s the torturer?” because they know they’re in Hell and are going to suffer. It’s finally Ines who figures it out: “Il n’y a pas de torture physique, n’est-ce que pas? Et cependant, nous sommes en enfer…le bourreau, c’est chacun de nous pour les deux autres.”
Rough translation: “There’s no phyisical torture, right? However, we’re in Hell…each of us is the torturer for the other two.”

An even rougher translation: “Hell is other people.” (“L’enfer, c’est les autres.”)

At first, the other two resist this idea, and maintain that they can just ignore each other for the rest of eternity. That lasts about five seconds, and the merde quickly hits the fan, and we see just why these three people ended up being forced into a room together. Interesting and thought-provoking.

Verdict: five out of five stars


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