The Flies
The Flies
by Jean-Paul Sartre
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The Flies Theme of Power

The Flies is an allegory of the German occupation of Paris during World War II. Systems of authority such as the Nazis (but also religion and other political or ideological organizations) are criticized and ridiculed in the play. By imposing their ideology on others, Sartre argues, these institutions attempt to strip individuals of their freedom – the very thing that makes us human. The Flies condones both resistance and rebellion on the grounds that human freedom can't be taken away; rather, we can only be deceived into thinking we are not free. No one has power over you, argues Sartre, until you willingly give it to them.

Questions About Power

  1. What does Orestes mean when he says he wishes to be "a king without a kingdom?"
  2. At the end of Act III, Zeus reveals that Orestes has come forward and cemented the decline of the god. Yet Zeus still gains a lifetime of remorse from Electra. Is Zeus beaten, or not?
  3. For the existentialist, what is problematic about the concept of fate or destiny?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Orestes's decision to leave Argos at the end of the play is a retreat into bad faith.

Next Page: Guilt and Blame
Previous Page: Philosophical Viewpoints: Existentialism

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