The play No Exit focuses on the different types of Tortures the characters go through. No ExitÂ maintains that sustained dull painful emotion is worse than physical torment. It is the pain of losing the control over everything, especially over the loved ones. Moreover Sartre describes hell as timeless vacuum where one has to spend an eternity with the undesirable. As play focuses on three individuals trapped in hell together. No torture devices or red-hot flames are needed, as the play concludes that hell is simply other people. Suffering surfaces in a variety of ways: from mutual teasing, prodding, and baiting, to a more philosophical brand of torture (one in which the gaze of other people reduces an individual to the state of an object).
In the play it is seen how each person becomes a torture to the other. This essay is specifically focused on the character "garcin" who was being tortured and becoming a torturer for the rest. Sartre isolates Garcin from the beginning of the play. He is a journalist from Rio. Garcin is a character who is quite relatable to the audience since, the audience and the readers see hell from Garcin's point of view, and he is the first to arrive in the room. Hence the essay focuses only on Garcin. Talking about all the characters would become too vast.
The set up of the room itself is like a jail. "There is a window in the left wall; when the curtains are opened we see that the window has been bricked up."(Stage directions) These are the opening stage directions which meant "no fresh air, no escape and no connection to the outer society" It gave the feeling of imprisonment Hence this is the first torture for the characters. "No mirrors, no windows, of course. Nothing breakable" The fact that there is nothing breakable in the room reflects that we won't be able to remove his anger on these things. This means usually when he would be angry, he would let out his anger by breaking things and showing violence. But here he finds nothing breakable so in a way "no way to let go off his anger" becomes the second way of the torture. Even though the appearances of the sets are normal, but actually they aren't. "So, it's no tooth brush. No beds either." The set up of hell is like a normal room, but the routines aren't the same.
Similarly it becomes torture for him when he realises one cannot sleep in hell. He claims "I've got it! Why is it painful to be here? Why would it naturally have to be a torture? I've got it! Just because it's life without time off, without a break" by break he means sleep. He's disgusted when he comes to know that it's going to be daylight all the time. "You mean you can't turn off the light off? This means, he would never be left alone, there would be somebody watching him all the time. Also no sleep would signify no escape from his problems for a while, no chance to dream (imagine). "A second of darkness, a little black curtain falls and goes back up and your break is made." There is no end to these rooms, there is no "Outside" no connection to the outer world, thus no track of timing. "Outside, on the other side of the wall?" says Garcin as he expects another side. Garcin is unable to control what is said about him on earth. "I told you to leave me alone, there's somebody talking about me at the paper, and I want to listen" These different kinds of settings contribute to the torture of Garcin.
According to garcin torture means "in physical ways" as one of the first remarks Garcin makes upon his entrance into the drawing room is that there are no torture instruments. "Where are the thumbscrews, the whips, the racks?" These are the things expected by Garcin in form of torture. Hence simply a room as hell was quite unexpected by him, but he didn't know the real torture was not physical, rather mental and emotional.
Hell is defined as being within the confines of this structure, and beyond these limits, there is nothing. It makes for a lonely, panicky environment where hope is all but nullified. This sets the stage for Sartre's portrayal of one's need for "others" in order for us to define:
Garcin is someone who needs company all the time and that is why his next torture was No company "You going, so long. Wait!" he wants the valet to wait with him for company. He realizes that he can't call the boy when he needs to, it's only on boy's wishing whether to go or not "I can ring for you when I have to and you have to come" but the boy claims "but something seems to be wrong with it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't"
Garcin depends, from the start, on the input from the Valet. He constantly asks him question about the place he asks "so this is it" "are all rooms like this" this shows how inquisitive he is, this where is first torture begins when he gets no new input from the boy! He needs answers to questions and desired instructions on how "life" evolves in this world of Hell. The Valet is surprised by Garcin's use of the word "life," but he humours him throughout the conversation.Â
These are some things that torture him, but the real torture is yet to come. The real torture was "other people" Inez and Estelle two women sharing the quarters with him. This is realised later.
The three characters, Garcin, Estelle, and Inez, have to deal with torture of being objectified. Each character becomes a subject for the other to objectify, since there are no mirrors and no other people inorder to approve their existentialism. Â Garcin suffers from "bad faith," he is unable to define his own individual quality, or soul. Instead of being able to decide for himself that he is not a coward, he believes the judgments of his co-workers back on earth. He begs Estelle to say that he is not a coward because he is unable to pass judgment on himself. "If there's someone, just one person, to say quite positively I did not run away, that I'm not the sort who runs away, that I'm brave and decent and the rest of it - well, that one person's faith would save me. Will you have that faith in me? Then I shall love you and cherish you forever" He is afraid to be alone and judge himself, resolving instead to "convince" Inez that he is not a coward. Without someone else to define his essence, Garcin is unsure about his existence. Hence Inez not confessing that he is not a coward is the biggest torture for him. You, anyhow, know what it means to be a coward. So it's you whom I have to convince; you are of my kind." "If you'll have faith in me I'm saved"
Garcin is also a torturer for others. "You're the torturer, I suppose" says Inez when she first meets him. Also when Estelle enters she thinks he's the torturer "No! No! No! Don't take your hands away! I know what's behind! You have no face!" Garcin claims "I'm not the torturer Madame."
Inez says "everything you don't say yells itself into my ears. You can nail your mouth shut, cut off your tongue, do you think it will stop you from thinking, you've stolen my face. You know what it looks like and I don't anymore, you've stolen her, I'm not going to leave you alone" this is the speech she makes to garcin which shows how much she's tortured by him and how Inez would take revenge and become a torturer for her by saying that she won't leave him. "You see, I'm fond of teasing, it's a second nature with me I don't tease nicely." exclaims Garcin.
Garcin's story on earth was also somewhat similar he tortured his wife a lot by getting another woman to sleep in their room and would make his wife serve them breakfast. "I tortured my wife for five years" "I used to come in blind drunk, smelling of liquor, and she'd have been waiting up all night" "I brought a half-caste girl to stay in our house. My wife slept upstairs; she must have heard - everything. She was an early riser and, as I and the girl stayed in bed late, she served us our morning coffee." This shows the sadist qualities of Garcin.
He is called sadist because he enjoyed in hurting his wife by doing this "It was so easy. A word was enough to make her flinch. Like a sensitive-plant. I'm fond of teasing. I watched and waited" "She never cried, never uttered a word of reproach. Only her eyes spoke. Big, tragic eyesÂ that woman was a born martyr, you know; a victim by vocation." These quotes show us about Garcin's bad faith.
Thus it could be said that the way Garcin has been tortured in hell (physically and emotionally) are the ways how he had actually tortured the others physically and emotionally. Thus, its cyclical and ironic nature. What goes around comes around.