As an existentialist play, No Exit necessarily embodies the Sartrean adage "existence precedes essence." As humans, we first exist, with no preconceived expectations, purpose, or ideals to which we must live up. We then define our essence (i.e., who we are) through choice and action. The self is re-created every moment by a conscious choice, and only action dictates our essence and beliefs.
Questions About Life, Consciousness, Existence
- What choices are made by the three characters in No Exit? Are these choices made consciously and in good faith?
- How is Sartre’s "existence precedes essence" claim illustrated in No Exit?
- Which of the three characters is the most conscious of his or her surroundings? Does this consciousness do him/her any good, or does it only torment him/her further?
Chew on This
Garcin has a worse case of bad faith at the end of No Exit than when the play began.