Props, Scenery, and Punishment in Sartre's No Exit 12th Grade
While in the play No Exit hell is famously defined as “other people”, it is the setting of hell which will ultimately create the hostile and volatile conditions that the characters find themselves in. Sartre places his characters in his existentialist hell in order for them to learn through their punishments, a strategy by which he intends to expose their inner, self-conscious nature until they accept both who and where they are. Ultimately, through the Second Empire drawing room, the buzzer, and peculiarities like the bronze ornament and letter opener, Sartre is able to force his characters to collide, judge, and mentally torture each other, until they accept their place in his existentialist hell.
When the Valet tells Garcin that the bell is working “capriciously”, Sartre uses a playful form of dramatic irony, as the audiences knows that the bell will not work. It then appears that this is all the bell and locked door are intended for: to trap the characters together and remind them they have no escape or communication outside their imprisonment. However, Sartre uses the door towards the end of the play to expose Garcin’s cowardly nature. When facing judgement from Inez, Estelle remarks that she wants to leave, to which...
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