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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
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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