The Flies is an exploration of Jean-Paul Sartre's ideas on radical personal freedom and radical personal responsibility. Sartre argues that every man is free in every sense. No one has authority over us until we choose to give him or her that authority. Even seemingly inescapable situations – like being alive – is a choice that we must consciously make. The Flies presents freedom as both a burden and a gift. Freedom provokes fear and anguish, and yet, it is decidedly what makes us human.
Questions About Freedom and Confinement
- How does Orestes define freedom in Act I, II, and III? Which of these definitions does Sartre embrace?
- We've discussed the ways in which Zeus and Aegisthus restrict the freedom of the Argives. But what about their own freedom? Do they embrace it, or run from it?
- Why does Electra give up trying to free the Argives in Act II?
Chew on This
Aegisthus and Zeus restrict the freedom of the Argives by making them ashamed of their own humanity.