by Jean-Paul Sartre
The Flies Philosophical Viewpoints: Existentialism 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.
Everybody here is sick with fear. Everybody except me. And I –
Yes? And you?
Oh, I – I'm sick with hatred. (1.1.154-6)
This is a very telling passage. Electra may not be consumed with guilt in the way the citizens of Argos are, but she is as much a prisoner as they are. It's just that she is enslaved by her thirst for revenge, rather than her fear of the dead.
You will […] murmur to yourself, "It wasn't I, it could not have been I, who did that." Yet, though you disown it time and time again, it will always be there, a dead weight holding you back. (1.1.206)
This self-denial is classic bad faith. As Clytemnestra predicts, Electra will behave in this way in Act III.
The sun is shining. Everywhere down in the plains men are looking up and saying: "It's a fine day," and they're happy. Are you so set on making yourselves wretched that you've forgotten the simple joy of the peasant who says as he walks across his fields, "It's a fine day"? No, you stand hanging your heads, moping and mumbling, more dead than alive. (2.1.81)
As Orestes later says, "Human life begins on the far side of despair." But the despair to which he refers is different than the misery Electra identifies in the people of Argos. Their misery is one of mental imprisonment, not the anguish of personal freedom. In this way, Electra is right that they are "more dead than alive." Until they embrace the personal freedom and despair of human life, they're not fully living.