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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Isolation

No Exit is famous for its memorable conclusion: "Hell is other people!" From an existentialist’s point of view, hell is other people because of competitive subjectivity. When two people are i...

Lies and Deceit

Sartre’s existentialism makes frequent use of the term "bad faith." At its core, bad faith means self-deception. According to the existentialist, man is both radically free to act and radical...

Philosophical Viewpoints: Existentialism

Jean-Paul Sartre uses his play No Exit to explore many of the existentialist themes discussed in his philosophical treatise Being and Nothingness. Most prominently, No Exit focuses on the ideas of...

Freedom and Confinement

As one of Sartre’s existentialist works, No Exit expectedly explores the idea of radical personal freedom. Man is free to do anything he wants, as long as he is willing to accept the conseque...

Suffering

No Exit maintains that mental anguish is worse than physical torment. The play focuses on three individuals trapped in hell together. No torture devices or red-hot flames are needed, as the play co...

Power

In No Exit, the greatest power an individual holds over another is that of "the look." In Sartre’s existentialism, the presence of other people is disturbing to an individual because their ga...

Life, Consciousness, Existence

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...

Courage

In No Exit, main character Joseph Garcin believes he has chosen courage as his value system. By calling himself a courageous man, dreaming of courageous acts, and aspiring to be courageous, Garcin...
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