• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Using Sartre's philosophy of existentialism, how similar are the themes of No Exit and Metamorphosis?

Extracts from this document...


Existentialism is the reaction against the tradition approach to the objective, abstract understandings of human behavior. It involves the study of individuals who exist independently of cultures, traditions and law and how these circumstances affect their lives. Jean-Paul Sartre defined 'existentialism' as 'existence precedes essence' and drew the differentiating line between inanimate objects and human consciousness; either they have their essence decided or thrust upon them. This essay compares No Exit and Metamorphosis by applying Sartre's philosophy of existentialism to determine how far their themes are similar. In Sartre's No Exit, he applies his philosophy to the circumstances of the characters. The play centers on three individuals forced together in a room in hell, decorated with Second Empire furniture: Joseph Garcin, Inez Serrano and Estelle Rigault. Sartre's hell involves no fire; his hell is likened to a roach motel - they check in but they cannot check out. This mirrors Metamorphosis, when Gregor wakes up as an insect, assumed to resemble a cockroach. This subtle connection could represent the insignificance of human lives and could also be a symbol of suffering in the two texts. Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis is about Gregor Samsa, who wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into an insect. ...read more.


Isolation and alienation bring about the question of existence. Do others define us, or do we define ourselves? Sartre's existentialism divides humans and inanimate objects by assigning the terms 'being-in-itself' and 'being-for-itself' to them. A 'being-in-itself' has its character assigned to it, an object that is given a name and purpose. A 'being-for-itself' consciously chooses its essence and character. Using this idea, it is apparent that the characters in No Exit and Metamorphosis display similar characteristics. However, the characters in No Exit are 'beings-in-themselves' as opposed to Metamorphosis's Gregor as a 'being-for-itself'. This is where the texts differ. Though both exhibit existentialist themes, each utilizes a difference aspect of the philosophy. Garcin, Inez and Estelle are 'beings-in-themselves' because they subconsciously need and depend on each other. This characteristic is shown in the event when the door to their room opens. Garcin says "I shall not go" and Inez then says "The barrier's down, why are we waiting? ... But what a situation! It's a scream! We're - inseparables!" This line summarizes the fact that they need each other, but at the same time, do not want to be with each other. They rely on each other to know of their existences, especially Estelle, as shown by her statement: "When I can't see myself I begin to wonder if I really and truly exist. ...read more.


They learned to live with his transformation; Grete even assumed the position of caretaker for Gregor and his parents acknowledged his presence in the house: "...his parents could not bring themselves to come in to him...But now both of them, his father and his mother often waited outside Gregor's door while his sister cleared up his room, and no sooner had she emerged than she had to tell them exactly how she had found the room, what Gregor had eaten, how he had behaved this time, and whether perhaps some slight improvement was noticeable." This showed that his parents were wiling to face the fact that their son was now an insect, even hoping that he would improve, though their hopes would be dashed. In conclusion, within the parameters of Sartre's philosophy of existentialism, the themes of the two texts are considerably similar with a few deviations such as the opening of the door choice theme and the suffering theme. It is to be taken into consideration that because of Kafka's straightforward understatements of the events in Metamorphosis, the text can have multiple interpretations. This essay was just one such way of interpreting the text and by using a common philosophy; the texts' themes could be compared and found to have considerable similarities based on that philosophy. ?? ?? ?? ?? Kimberly Soong Le Anne IB English SL World Literature 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Fyodor Dostoevsky section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Fyodor Dostoevsky essays

  1. Could I Have Lived My Life Differently? : The Diary of Bigger Thomas.

    As a metaphor, the trapped and killed rat identifies Bigger's intense feelings of being trapped and hunted. Throughout the novel, Bigger alternates between the roles of predator (the rat that cuts veins) and the role of prey (the rat that is trapped and killed).

  2. Discuss the themes of Virtu and Fortuna in The Prince

    Machiavelli wanted the prince to act as a guide to show how to create a principality and hold onto it because he had remembered how the French were succeeding as they were one principality under one prince and Machiavelli wanted this for Italy.

  1. How is the LuLing that springs to life in her manuscript different from the ...

    For example the fact that LuLing is still strongly superstitious. She has never stopped believing in this curse that has been following her family for so many generations. She has even tried to introduce Ruth to this curse when she will haunt her when her mother is dead.

  2. In No Exit, by Jean-Paul Sartre - review

    And as we're both in the same boat, so to speak, might I ask you, Mrs. - ?" (8) Their mutual introduction was very deceiving, they made out themselves as being very nice and respectable people who apparently had no reason to be in this situation.

  1. Fydor Dostoyevsky's representation of suffering

    and everybody liked him" (Dostoyevsky, 59). After Raskolnikov left college, he was even scarcer on money. He would sell his valuables to get some money to pay for the necessities. He went to sell it to the pawnbroker, Aliona Ivanovna. Aliona Ivanovna was disliked by many people and a student described her, "Rich as a Jew, she's always got money around....

  2. Robert Jordan and The Wheel of Time.

    Shadar Logoth, which almost means 'Where the Shadow Waits,' and is formerly known as Aridhol. Here is where the group is split up by a Myrddral forcing Trollocs into Shadar Logoth to kill the group within. The group is now split up with Lan and Moiraine separatedfrom the group, until Nynaeve finds them.

  1. Discuss the theme of loyalty within

    This retrospective narrator knows more than the reader and so is in a position of irony in relation to the events of the story. Characterisation plays a very important part within the novel, and the only character the reader really learns about is the author himself.

  2. How does the writer of the play 'A Kind of Alaska' show the struggle ...

    It is almost as if she snaps back to reality. Now begins the struggle of coming to terms with who she is, what happened to her and where she is. Deborah would feel isolated and alone, as she is in a bare room with a person who is unfamiliar to her.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work