No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre

"Hell is other people" may be the most known quote of the play, but the quotes in No Exit are endless and thought-provoking.

Jean-Paul Sarte No Exit Play
A reflection of Jean-Paul Sartre's dialogue in No Exit as a guide for the living.

While rereading Jean-Paul Sartre's masterpiece No Exit (an absurdist play about the vile nature of humanity through a conversation of three characters in hell) I continue to find dialogue that is not only metaphysical, but honest, and vivid. The work is not nihilistic or pessimistic, but genuine and beautiful in its delivery of life. It contains hard truths. I found a quote this evening while ready that I felt needed to be shared: "One always dies too soon--or too late. And yet one's whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up. You are--your life, and nothing else."


With this quote, Sartre suggests that life is effectively simple. We are who we are. Our life is who we are. There is nothing outside of it that we can own or add. We can inspire and our legacy can continue, but our duty is complete when we are finally dead and at rest. As bleak as some may find that, I find it a great relief. I will do what I can do while I remain alive, but I will not focus on what comes after, because everything that comes after I am gone belongs to others; to those who remain. I will try to make life easier and better for others when I am gone, but in the end, they will owe me nothing for it. It is my choice, or it is not, but either way, it is life.


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