No Exit

The Abusive Love Triangle in No Exit 

“If they’d put me in a room with men-men can keep their mouths shut” (Sartre 23). If the gender setting in No Exit changes into different gender collocation, would it make a difference? Will the hell still be the hell? In Jean-Paul Sartre’s play write No Exit, Garcin, Inez, and Estelle are trapped in the torturing love triangle because what they desire from another is unsatisfied. The rest of the essay will explore this abusive relationship and compare it with that of other literary works.

To begin with, Garcin, Inez and Estelle are tortured by their unsatisfied desire, and the pain often seems like hell. According to Collins English Dictionary, a love triangle, also called the eternal triangle, is “a relationship in which three people are each in love with at least one other person in the relationship”. “In No Exit, Estelle adores by Garcin, but Garcin is intrigued by Inez, who is interested in Estelle. Estelle is a seductive and vain character who relies on other’s perceptions of herself to feel her existence (Sartre 19). She wants to be the object in her relationship with Garcin, and she seduces Garin’s activity, “I’m giving you my mouth, my arms, my whole body-and everything could be so simple… My trust!” (36). Estelle desires to be favor by Garcin and eagers to have a love relationship with him. However, Garcin makes Estelle embarrassed by replying to her with a vague response (36). Why Garcin behaves in this way while facing the seduction of a beautiful young lady? Garcin’s behaviors can be explained by having sex with Estelle is not his real pursuits; instead, he craves to be recognized by Inez as a brave man rather than a coward. Even when the door of hell opens, Garcin choose to stay and to convince Inez:

Inez: Do you really wish to convince me? (Sartre 42)
Garcin: That’s the one and the only thing I wish for now…. So, Inez, we’re alone. Only
you two remain to give a thought to me. She-she doesn’t count. It’s you who matter; you
who hare me. If you’ll have faith in me I’m saved (43).
Inez: It won’t be easy…. I’m a hard-headed woman (43).

This conversation indicates that “hard-headed” Inez seems like the trap of Garcin, by bring sufferings to Garcin by preventing him from persuade her her. Thus, since Garcin is intrigued by Inez, he ignores Estelle and her seduction. Additionally, Inez is also torturing by Garcin and Estelle.  When Estelle is finding a mirror, Inez says, “I’m your lark-mirror, my dear, and you can’t escape me” (Sartre 21).  Her words suggest that Inez cravings to be the subject in her relationship with Estelle and have fun control over Estelle. To win favor with Estelle, Inez expresses her appreciation, “I can’t help looking at you” (21). However, when Estelle tells her that “I wish [Garcin would] notice me, too,” Inez gets angry (21), and she even becomes furious and jealousy when Garcin and Estelle hold on to each other and kissing (35). Like what Carcin sighs in the book, the man and the two women “are chasing after each other, round and round in a vicious circle”, and they are torturing by catching nothing from each other.

What is more, the love triangle in No Exit is special compared with those in other literature work. In No Exit, each of the three characters pursues another person while wooed by another. Commonly, in literature, there are two types of love triangles: harem (one man wooed by two women) and anti-harem (one woman pursued by two men). For instance, in Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, the love triangle is an anti-harem that contains two men and one woman, which has a different gender setting compared with that of No Exit. Jay Gatsby, the protagonist, adores Daisy Buchanan who married Tom Buchanan. Plus, a similarity between Sartre and Fitzgerald’s love triangle is that people who are stuck in this abusive relationship receive a painful ending. In No Exit, the three characters may trap in hell forever. Likewise, in The Great Gatsby, Gatsby fails to win Daisy back, and he died for covering up Daisy’s crime of manslaughter (Fitzgerald 103). Daisy returns to Tom, the brute and unfaithful husband, and begins to mess up their lives again with quarrel and infidelity (114). Indeed, there is a gap between the two pieces of evidence since the exact endings of Garcin, Inze, Estelle, Daisy, and Tom are not described in the books. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to postulate that they would torture each other or mess up their lives.

In conclusion, being trap in the love triangle, Garcin, Inez, and Estelle torture each other and suffer from unrequited love. These three characters are locked in hell because the person they desire does not respond to them, and the person who pursuits they are not what they desire. This illustrates one of Stares’ most famous assertion in No Exit that “Hell is–other people” (Sartre 45), which manifests itself in the aches of unsatisfied desire.

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