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No Exit

No Exit is an existentialist play by Jean-Paul Sartre, which contains only four characters, and one set (hell).

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers.

Table of contents
1 Plot Synopsis
2 Characters
3 Analysis
4 History

Plot Synopsis

The play begins with a bellhop leading a man named Garcin into a hotel room (Hell in the play is portrayed as a gigantic hotel). The room has no windows and only one door. Eventually Garcin is joined by a woman (Inez), and then another (Estelle). After their entry, the bellhop bolts the door shut. All expect to be tortured, but no torturer arrives. Instead, they realize, they are there to torture each other, which they do effectively, by probing each other's sins, desires, and unpleasant memories. The three often see events concerning them that are happening on earth, but they can only observe and listen.


Garcin - Garcin is the first character that readers are introduced to. His sin is cowardice: he deserted the army at the start of World War II. At the start of the play, he hates Inez because she understands his weakness, and lusts after Estelle because he feels that if she treats him as a man he will become manly. However, by the end of the play he understands that because Inez understands the meaning of cowardice and wickedness, only absolution at her hands can redeem her (if indeed redemption is possible for him).

Inez - Inez is the second character to enter the room. Her sin is turning a wife against her husband, twisting her perception of her spouse. Indeed, Inez seems to be the only character who understands the power of opinion, througought the play mainpulating Estelle and Garcin's opinions of themselves and of each other. She is the only character who is honest about the evil deeds she, Garcin, and Estelle have done, and without her life in hell would not be torture.

Estelle - Estelle is a "society woman," a blond who married her husband for his money and deceived him with a younger man. Throughout the play she makes advances towards Garcin, seeking to define herself as a woman (perhaps her only role) through a man. Her sins are deceit, and her lover to committ suicide for her sake. In the end, she loses the struggle for Garcin to Inez.


The theme is summarized in one line near the end of the play: "Hell is other people."

The last line of the play is also a topic for discussion: Garcin, after refusing to leave the room, says "Well, well, let's get on with it..."


The play was written by Jean-Paul Sartre in 1964, and was originally published in French under the title Huis-Clos.