"Hell is other people" How does Sartre demonstrate this during the course of "Huis Clos"

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Justin Barauskas

“Hell is other people” How does Sartre demonstrate this during the course of “Huis Clos”

During the course of “Huis Clos” Sartre is centred towards an existentialist problem, “Hell is other people”. In order to convey this problem Sartre sets his play in a hell-after-life setting with only 3 “dead” characters. These are, Garcin a coward who treated his wife badly, Inez a lesbian who seeks Estelle and Estelle a self centred fussy child murderer.

First of all,  due to the setting of the play and the small number of characters involved Sartre creates much more tension between the characters and this leads on to them focusing onto their’ problems. Through this tight tension I believe Sartre builds up the suspense to the main point of the play that “Hell is other people” much quicker and that this allows the language spoken to be analysed in much more depth. The suspense is built up through characters interacting with each other and thereby by being locked in a room together they have to come into grip with themselves. The characters are defenceless, “naked as worms” and therefore they suffer by not being able to escape free from their past.

Secondly I believe that Sartre creates a completely different image of hell, with no torture chamber as one would imagine, P182 “Where’s the torture-chamber?” I believe he creates this setting of the unknown torture so that the characters have a task to find out what the torture is and this later on in the play becomes clear to the characters, “hell is other people”.

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Thirdly the fact that there is no switches to turn the light off and that they live “without eyelids” locks them into not being able to escape from their past through their dreams or as such. This means that they have to participate in the seeing everything to do with them that goes on earth and in hell. Thereby the characters will torture themselves by seeing the present on each other on earth and uncovering of their true selves in hell will lead to them being tortured due to this. This is conveyed through Garcin who presents himself as someone ...

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