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No Exit Essay, Research Paper

Sartre believed that one day man happened, or occurred, and

after this anomalous event man?s life took meaning. With this

theory, Sartre articulated the premise that "existence precedes

essence". Through this assumption, Sartre evolves further ideas

in which a human can gain a greater understanding of human nature

and responsibility.

In his theory stating that "existence precedes essence",

Sartre takes the belief that life has a meaning that far

transcends our short and insignificant lives. He believed that

life has no meaning unless we gave it meaning. In the search for

life, we become anguished by the affairs of life. Sartre believed

that when this occurred, we pursue a fundamental project in an

attempt to flee this anguish. Sartre said that in this, we try

to make ourselves Gods in hopes that others will see us as

divine, and hold us in high or higher regard. To pursue a

fundamental project according to Sartre is to act in bad faith.

Consequently, to act in bad faith, according to Sartre is to

manifest our freedom inauthenticaly.

Sartre assessed how when man acknowledges and accepts that

he is a living being with a biological and social past. He can

transcend beyond that to nothingness, the realm of the etre pour

soi (the "being-for-itself"). At this point he is, according to

Sartre, clearheaded and in good faith. Because he is acting in

good faith, he is not pursuing a fundamental project in an

attempt to circumvent the possibility of anguish. The outcome of

this path of good faith is that man manifests his freedom

authenticates and ultimately this freedom is real.

Those who do not act clear headed will inevitably fall into

anguish; which is what is felt by those who cannot except that

they come from the realm of the etre en soi (realm of the

"being-in-itself") and therefore make attempts to deny their

past. In an attempt to flee their past and the anguish that can

accompany it, Sartre believed that some will pursue a fundamental

project. To do this is to act in bad faith.

In No Exit the character Garcin is a clear cut example of an

individual acting in bad faith in an attempt to flee anguish. In

the play, Garcin is placed in a room to face hell with two other

people, Estelle and Inez. The character Garcin is in this hell

after being shot for fleeing his country after the breakout of

war. Prior to the war, Garcin was the editor of a pacifist

newspaper. When he defied war, he was shot. Although he was

defiant he chooses to think of himself as a hero and a martyr.

As the story evolves, the character Inez forces Garcin to admit

that he is not a hero, and that he did in fact, act cowardly.

Garcin then pursues a fundamental project to flee the anguish

that accompanies being labeled a coward. He tries to convince

Estelle that he is not a coward. In doing so, Garcin feels that

the words he hears spoken of him down from earth will be hushed,

and he will be the hero he wishes to be. This is exemplary of

Sartre?s notion that when faced with angst, some will not act

clear headed and instead will pursue a project in an attempt to

lift themselves above and beyond the reality they are confronted


It is important at this time to reaffirm Sartre?s belief

that a fundamental project will fail. There are two reasons for

this. First, Sartre believed that "I am not what I am – I am

what I am not." What is meant by this is that we can never truly

be what we wish to be. Such a concept results from the fact that

we exist in this world solely for others. Therefore, if we act in

bad faith and do not try to legitimately come to terms with this

fact, then we will never be more than what others wish us to be.

The second reason is because we will never be regarded how we

wish to be regarded. The reasoning behind this is that we are

sentient beings who determine our own reality. Furthermore, we

determine our own truths because we perceive them in our own

unique way. This is why no two individuals can ever see eye to

eye on an issue. Therefore one who wishes to be regarded a

certain way could never be, because he is relying on others for

the regard he seeks. Unfortunately, others see him with eyes far

different than his.

As events in the play would have it, Garcin?s fundamental

project does fail. He first attempts to get Estelle to believe

that he is not a coward, but is angered to find that Estelle

could care less. Garcin finds that Estelle?s only concern is to

be with a man, any man. He next attempts to convince Inez, but

is stalemated. Inez only views Garcin as the coward he is.

Garcin feels that if he can convince her otherwise, he could cast

away the shadow that shades his death. It is at this point, that

Inez says something quite insightful. She states, "Your a

coward, Garcin, because I wish it." This represents Sartre?s

idea that we are a being in the world for others. Prior to Inez

making this comment, Garcin had been trying to flee the anguish

surrounding his position. After the statement, Garcin realizes

that his fundamental project has failed and he must now spend his

eternity in hell with his tormentors who see him differently than

he does of himself.

In conclusion, Sartre uses Garcin to try and guide the reader, and he

illustrates his idea that one must take responsibility for their own life

and their own past to truly come to peace with one?s self. With the

concepts of bad faith fundamental project illustrated in a character in

hell, Sartre emphasizes how severe he views the consequences of choosing

the wrong path in life.

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