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The Flies

The Flies


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.

Quote #1

Agamemnon was a worthy man, you know, but he made one great mistake. He put a ban on public executions. That was a pity. A good hanging now and then – that entertains folks in the provinces and robs death of its glamour… So the people here held their tongues; they looked forward to seeing, for once, a violent death. (1.1.38)

If The Flies is indeed meant as commentary on the occupation of Paris, what does this particular passage say about the Nazi presence in Europe?

Quote #2

And you, too, said nothing?
Does that rouse your indignation? Well, my young friend, I like you all the better for it; it proves your heart's in the right place. (1.1.39-40)

With this conversation, Sartre is addressing the idea of radical personal responsibility. His breed of existentialism claims that all are were responsible for all man-made events. World War II, for example, was the fault of every living human in the world. Orestes is then correctly placing some blame on this man (supposedly the mortal Demetrios) for not speaking up to avert the crime.

Quote #3

No, I admit I, too, held my peace. I'm a stranger here, and it was no concern of mine. (1.1.40)

This is the argument Orestes uses to justify his leaving Argos and remaining light, weightless, obligation-free. (Of course, he later changes his mind.)

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