Identity Vs. Outside Forces Essay

2013 words - 8 pages

The existential drama, No Exit by Jean Paul Sartre, and the absurd drama, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard both portray characters with an ambiguous sense of identity. While the characters in No Exit delude themselves with respect to identity and shirk responsibility for their identity-making choices, the characters in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead are primarily controlled by outside forces that confuse and limit their sense of identity. Both these authors do a fine job of portraying the relationship between identity and the outside forces

The only character in either play that exhibits a true sense of identity is No Exit's Inez. by Comparing and contrasting the identites of the characters we can see how identity unfolds admist oustanding forces.

The identity of a person is created by how one precieves themselves to other people. With respect to Garcin of No Exit, this is very evident. He claims: "I'm no talker, I don't move much; in fact I'm a very peacful sort of fellow"(Satre 9) even though speaks and voices his opinion often. Garcin becomes more comfortable when he begins to realize his identity, "I'm no gentleman, and I have no compunction about striking a woman". Thomas Whitaker believes "Garcin...finally sees that one who identitfies conciousness with any role or ideal must submit to the unpredictable validating judgement of others"(par. 4). Garcin's identity becomes clear as soon as he enters the room when talking to the valet: "I tell you, I regret nothing"(Satre 24). This is also evidence that Garcin thinks of himself as a hero. Garcin's deludes himself by convincing himself that he did do the right thing: "I shan't be sorry for myself, I'll face the situation, as I said just now. Face it fairly and squarely"(Satre 5). Garcin's choices are what got him into hell. He believes "...My death will settle it. If I face death courageously, I'll prove I am no coward"(Satre 38). Garcin has an ego about who he was before death: a courageous newspaper reporter ready to face death whenever.
Garcin's identity is largely shaped by what others think of him. Garcin's coworker, Gomez, seems to be one person that has a hold on Garcin: "Now it's over, he's stopped talking, and what he thinks of me has gone back into his head"(Satre 23). He says something similar when talking to Inez about leaving the room: "No, I couldn't leave you here, gloating over my defeat, with all those thoughts about me running in your head"(Satre 42). Garcin is so obsessed with what others think of him, he is offended when Inez suggests that he looks "like a torturer"(Satre 8). Even though Garcin evades responsibility for his actions, he can been seen as a christ-like figure. He believes "When [he] chose the hardest path, [he] did it delibrately. A man is what he wills himself to be"(Satre 43). This is ironic because Gacrin wills himself to be a hero but he always will be a coward. This is evident when Garcin says: "If you are...

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