No Exit and Three Other Plays

No Exit and Three Other Plays


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Four seminal plays by one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century.

An existential portrayal of Hell in Sartre's best-known play, as well as three other brilliant, thought-provoking works: the reworking of the Electra-Orestes story, the conflict of a young intellectual torn between theory and conflict, and an arresting attack on American racism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679725169
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/28/1989
Series: Vintage International Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 71,461
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.61(d)
Lexile: NP (what's this?)

About the Author

Philosopher, novelist, playwright, and polemicist, Jean-Paul Sartre is thought to have been the central figure in post-war European culture and political thinking. He is the author of The Age of Reason, The Words, and the play No Exit among other works.

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No Exit and Three Other Plays 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿No Exit¿ by Jean Paul Sartre is a one-act play write about three eternally damned souls. The setting of the story takes place in a room, containing Second-Empire furniture, deep within hell. Throughout the play the three souls torture each other relentlessly. At first none of the characters will admit to the fact that they belong in hell, but soon confess their sins. This play contains a lot of seduction and animosity. The author of this play shows how individuals tend to lie to themselves and to others. The characters in the play do not want to admit their sins to each other or to themselves for that matter. Vanity, desire, and self-righteousness are greatly displayed in this story by the damned souls trapped in the room.
Guest More than 1 year ago
French philosopher and playwrite Jean-Paul Satre composed these four wonderful plays during the 1940s. His most well known work is 'No Exit' which portrays hell not as Milton or Dante but a room with 2 other people. They torture each other more perfectly than any physicla pain could. Free to leave they all remain to inflict misery upon their 'roommates.' Next is 'The Flies' an existential rendering of 'The Libation Bearers,' the second part of Aeschylus' Oresteia, during which Orestes returns to Argos to avenge his fathers murder by his mother and uncle. I actually was assigned this play for an assignment in a mythology class then finished the rest of the book. 'Dirty Hands' almost follows the bildungsroman form in tracing the deveopment of an intellectual torn between theories and their practical implementation. The final play, 'The respectful Prostitute' is an insightful look into the racism of the south in the United States. All in all the plays are easy to read and make a wonderful introduction into existentialism.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have just picked up Sartre¿s No Exit and Three Other Plays and already I am fascinated. I had heard that his play, ¿The Respectful Prostitute¿ was a strong criticism of American racism and wanted to check it out. Skipping to the very end of the book and reading this play first, I came away with feelings of anger, and praise. Anger because I am an African-American and was hurt by its realism, but I also praise the work for its scathing, although subtle and multi-layered (sophisticated) critique of American racism. Textually, the work was extremely easy to read. Embedded in this ¿easy¿ text however is some of the most thought provoking material ranging from classical notions solitude and isolation to gender issues that should keep the feminist talking for years to come. For me, the most interesting and thought provoking portion of the text deals with the homoeroticism (not to be confused with ¿homosexualism¿) that has always been the singular preoccupation in the white male mind with respect to the black male body. The dramatic utilization and subtle working of this topic would have made Freud proud, and Dr. Francis Welsing say, ¿I told you so!¿ A must read for anyone interested in portrayals of American racism in the French imagination or just excellent dramatic work.
alexainAPLit More than 1 year ago
Review on No Exit: In his play, No Exit, Jean-Paul Sartre provides a refreshing perspective on popular culture’s stereotypical interpretation of Hell. A man and two women — Garcin, Inez, and Estelle, respectively — share a virtually empty drawing room with nothing more than a few pieces of furniture. As they enter this Hell, the characters themselves say what we are all thinking: “Where are the torture chambers and fires?” Sartre deliberately changes our conception of Hell to assert the play’s main theme and most iconic line: “Hell is other people.” Sartre does an impressive job with character development, creating three-dimensional characters through backstories as well as mannerisms and interactions with the other characters. Another well-executed factor of the play is the message Sartre conveyed about deception. The characters initially lie to each other about why they ended up in Hell after death. Estelle goes so far as to say that her presence in Hell is a mistake (ironically, we later find out that she had an affair and killed her own child during her time on Earth). However, the truth inevitably comes out and supports Sartre’s notion that it is impossible to hide one’s true self. The high points in the play are those of conflict. For example, toward the end of the play, Estelle grabs a knife and tries to stab Inez to death, only to realize that once one is already dead, injuring them has no effect. Shocking moments like these are a useful way to draw the audience in. Although No Exit contains its fair share of brilliant ideas, every play has its downfalls. In a one act play with a single, minimalistic set, the dialogue must propel the play forward. At times, there is a lull in the writing which makes it hard to stay fully engaged. In addition, Sartre includes excessive sexual encounters. Each character has a sex-related sin that accounts for all or part of why they landed in Hell. Once in Hell, there is a plethora of seduction. Inez, a lesbian, makes multiple attempts to seduce Estelle. Estelle rejects Inez and tries her luck at seducing Garcin, succeeding on one occasion. The back-and-forth seduction attempts take away from the more important themes of the play. Sartre’s No Exit is a fascinating interpretation of Hell. By referring to Hell as “other people,” Sartre designates it as a place that is accessible to those on Earth as well.
WilfGehlen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hell is--other people!The premise of No Exit is simple to tell--three nogoodniks have died and gone to hell, locked together in a drawing-room to annoy each other for all eternity. Reduces the need for floggers and flayers, you know. Garcin, Inez, and Estelle slowly reveal their history, why they have come to this place and how each is exquisitely suited to torture the other. This eternal triangle is not quite equilateral, though. All is not well in this part of hell.Garcin is the one who breaks the symmetry. He tries to avoid the role of torturer and fosters the hope that they can resolve their situation. He suggests that each should engage in self-examination, "that way we--we'll work out our salvation. Looking into ourselves." When that fails he suggests mutual examination of their sins, "if we bring our specters into the open, it may save us from disaster." This also fails, as Inez and Estelle embrace their hellish roles by being themselves. The two women, after all, are each complicit in murder/suicide, and are beyond hope. Garcin's transgressions are of another sort altogether. More about that below.Three people tucked away for eternity--clever premise, well constructed character development and plot execution, but why do we care? It's not real, doesn't conform to any collective notion of an afterlife. What does strike us as real, though, and is closer to us than the two murderers, is Garcin. He considers his mistreatment of his wife the reason for consignment to hell, but says, "I regret nothing." It is not this issue that he needs to resolve. Rather, he agonizes over his cowardice, his desertion in time of war, for which he was shot. He cringes when he hears his colleagues denigrate him. He seeks and receives vindication from Estelle, then is made to understand by Inez that Estelle will say anything to assuage him. It is Inez who understands him completely, who knows his cowardice from exploring the depths of her own soul. It is she who must vindicate Garcin, else he suffer for eternity. When the door to the room opens unexpectedly, Garcin cannot leave while Inez remains behind, "gloating over [his] defeat." Garcin is, using Sartre's terminology, both a being-for-itself (sentient) and a being-for-others (social). But in Garcin the being-for-others dominates, so that his life is totally controlled by what others think of him. Hence his extreme concern about his reputation as coward. Hence his treatment of his wife, whom he rescued from the gutter to serve as his vanity mirror. Garcin realizes that she, like Estelle, reflects not the truth, but Garcin as she needs to see him. Garcin punishes her either for her to become a faithful mirror or because she cannot.Garcin is in hell, but we the living face his issue also. We are necessarily socially connected, we are a being-for-others, but we must be equally a being-for-itself. As a being-for-others we can see our own face only as reflected in the faces of others. As a being-for-itself we need to see our own independent image of ourselves--so that we can become the being that we imagine.For Garcin, "no exit" may be too pessimistic, the original "huis clos" possibly more apt. Garcin could not escape the room when the door opened for him. Perhaps he still can if he realizes that his fate is not in Inez's hands, but in his own, by discounting her opinion and the opinion of others in favor of his own. Or, this being hell, perhaps not. But for us who are not yet arrived, the door is open to us, so to find ourselves on the other side, to see ourselves not as others see us.
wrmjr66 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
{Some Spoilers below}While Jean Paul Sartre is probably better known as an existentialist philosopher, his reputation as a playwright and novelist was very good during his lifetime (he refused the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964). "No Exit" is his most famous play, and justifiably so. It is a classic one-act play that places three people in "Hell" together. As the action develops, it becomes clear that their torments are not the fire and brimstone of medieval imagining. Rather, they are tormented by each other, or as Sartre states succinctly, "Hell is--other people." Sartre uses the conventions of the stage perfectly as he strands these people to be tormented by--and to torment--the other characters.The other plays in the collection are not as strong. "The Flies," Sartre's first play, is a retelling of the Oresteia. Instead of the fatalism of Aeschylus, Sartre gives us the existential struggles of characters working out their fate. Each character struggles with concepts of freedom as the net of their past draws them inexorably toward a tragic end. "Dirty Hands" takes place in an imaginary European country during World War II. A young man in the communist party desires responsibility, but once he is given an assignment (to assassinate a rival in the party), he struggles to accomplish the goal. The main action is a long flashback which dramatizes his struggles. The play is bracketed by the character in the present ruminating on his past. The bracketing is too philosophical for my taste; I prefer the dramatization that marks the middle acts. Finally, "The Respectful Prostitute" is an attack on American racism. It is the least successful of the plays, though it is fascinating to see the response of a non-American to the segregation that was present in U.S. society in the 1940s.I highly recommend "No Exit" to everyone. The other plays may be of interest to those with a deep interest in the stage or in Sartre. While the other plays do not measure up to "No Exit," they do provide interesting and thought-provoking reading.
ridgehardy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Every play was magnificent. Gripping, psychologically scathing, it breathes life.
TakeItOrLeaveIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
No Exit is one of my all-time fav's but I don't recall the other plays. No Exit is the ultimate one act. possibly best ever written.
AidenVB More than 1 year ago
The fascinating play, "No Exit," analyzes sorrowful subjects; death and hell, and yet is quite comedic and teaches numerous life values. Although some may believe that the topic of hell is extremely set in stone and acutely dark, ascribed to the human race’s common fear of death and overall avoidance of talk about hell, Sartre’s take on the idea of hell transforms the reader’s imagination. Writing style, different outlooks on the afterlife, and quirky characters all assemble what is the entertaining and satirical take on hell in which Sartre composed. The characters that materialize at differing times all through the play are in every respect varied in personalities and life values. This adds to the play’s peculiar uplifting style, and creates interesting conflicts throughout Sartre’s work. These characters interpret the unalike conduct that occurs in this account of hell, and become aware of the superior way in which they had perceived the world when they were still alive. In Jean-Paul Sartre’s, “No Exit,” one finds oneself encased in a peculiar version of hell with three other extremely disparate individuals, where these characters alter their personal morals and assimilate what is actually relevant in life.  
Speaking_Q More than 1 year ago
My introduction to Sartre was his philosophies not his fiction, nevertheless it does not disappoint. His humor is remains in this work-along with his lightness when dealing heavy subjects-such as the less than attractive aspects of "Human Nature" I certainly would recommend this book as a teaser to what existentialism discusses.
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The book takes you through what seems to be a simple scenario but quickly shows that is not the case. It makes you think about humanity but can also be a quick read just for fun.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
'No Exit' is an excellent play, depicting the struggles people have in dealing with the guilt that the Jewish-Christian religion causes people by denying them the right to be people instead of 'objects.' However, Sartre 'overkills' in his play 'The Respectful Prostitute' by stereotyping the Southern White Male as a racist, a bigot, and a liar. Racism and slavery, I might remind the late self-proclaimed Jew Jean-Paul Sartre, as well as his readers,were justified by the documented and historical authority for slavery and Israeli Supremacy: The Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament), otherwise known as the Law of God or the Law of Moses. It is the root of the Jewish and Islamic justification for slavery and of the Christian's duty to 'obey his master.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
Without a doubt the most compelling play is 'No Exit,' in which Sartre gives a disturbing description of hell. This is not the fiery sulphur of Dante's Inferno, but a simple room in which there are only three people. Sartre admirably illustrates his theories of existence and anguish, the master/slave concept, and bad faith.