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The Flies

The Flies


by Jean-Paul Sartre

The Flies Choices Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue. We used the translation by S. Gilbert found in No Exit and Three Other Plays, published by Vintage Books in 1989.

Quote #7

[Falling on his knees] I stink! Oh, how I stink! I am a mass of rottenness. See how the flies are teeming round me, like carrion crows… That's right, my harpies; sting and gouge and scavenge me; bore through my flesh to my black heart. I have sinned a thousand times, I stink of ordure, and I reek to heaven. (2.1.28)

It's important to note that the citizens of Argos want the flies – their punishment is self-imposed. This man also willingly dehumanizes himself by referring to his flesh as "carrion."

Quote #8

What are you, Electra, but the last survivor of an accursed race? (2.1.68)

The King tries to control Electra through the idea of "destiny." As far as an existentialist is concerned, there is no such thing as destiny. Electra might have messy family history, but she can choose how this history is going to affect her. As Sartre writes, she alone has the power to interpret her facticity (more on that in "Character Analysis").

Quote #9

In Greece there are cities where men live happily. White, contented cities, basking like lizards in the sun. At this very moment, under this same sky, children are playing in the streets of Corinth. (2.1.77)

Notice how the sun is interpreted differently at different moments in the play. It's up to each person to decide the meaning of elements in nature.

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