The Flies Philosophical Viewpoints: Existentialism Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
ZEUS 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?
ORESTES And you, too, said nothing? ZEUS 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.
ZEUS 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.)