Monday, October 27, 2008

"That's right, fawn on him, like the silly bitch you are. Grovel and cringe!"

What about love and attraction in this play?
I really think Sartre make a lot of good points on the fickle nature of human desire and attraction. Why does attraction get sparked? Can people control their attractions? Can they ignore their attractions? What causes people to "settle" for others?

Some quotes I liked concerning this topoic are :

"I shan't love you; I know you too well."

"Come to me Estelle. You shall be whatever you like... and deep down in my eyes you'll see yourself just as you want to be."

"If you'll only will it hard enough, I dare say we can really love each other"

"Love's a grand solace, isn't it, my friend?"

Are any of these comments true? Are all of these comments true?

Has any body seen the movie "Rules of Attraction"? No Exit reminded me a lot in some ways of that movie

14 comments:

Aaron Nussdorf said...

What I find the most interesting is how Sartre has women being manipulating, grabbing whores. Estelle could be considdered a nymphomaniac; likewise, Inez is who is man-hating.
I think the manipulation acts as a great tool to show the effect of the Gaze.

puddlewonderful said...

I wouldn't call Estelle a nymphomaniac. In fact, I think she illustrates the Gaze in two ways-- first, of course, how she for a brief time controls Garcin with the promise of loving him, unconditionally, for who he is (and I think it follows forgiving him, or redeeming him, for his trespasses). But she also feels the opposite end of the Gaze. Specifically, Estelle defines herself by the affections and attentions of men. She needs admirers. She craves admirers. She needs Garcin to pay her attention, admire her beauty, think she is lovely-- and want her, sexually. As long as she is desired and admired she is happy. She relies completely on feeling a favorable Gaze.

Ehren said...

But it wasn't just the women... Garcin admits to coming home to his wife frequently smelling like alcohol and women, and he even makes a comment about his libidinousness

bballinsupasta said...

i think that it is pretty ridiculous that thought in the play about women hasn't changed much for the Greek ideas about women. i loathe how we as women are constantly portrayed as manipulating, too smart, slutty, or some combination of those traits.

puddlewonderful said...

I think many of the people berating Sartre for his portrayal of women are forgetting something very important: these are the damned women. Garcin, Inez, and Estelle are not representative examples of their gender. Otherwise, we could also assume that Sartre portrays all men to be libidinous, male-chauvinistic cheaters.

However, the fact that the two female sinners are manipulative (in their own ways), and either bitchy, evil, and butch (Inez) or slutty and crafty (Estelle) might hold some significance. (It is also interesting that the more feminine of the two, Estelle, is slutty, crafty, and somewhat weak, while the more masculine lesbian, Inez, is downright cruel and blunt-- Sartre definitely buys into stereotypes there). Sartre isn't trying to say that all women are like this, but he does seem to think that all bad women are like that. Perhaps, though, one could argue that he only chooses those two because they play well off each other and off Garcin to maximize their torture in Hell.

With a writer like Sartre I can't imagine it's any one of those reasons alone. Stereotypes are useful-- they create believable characters used in a sort of Aristotelian tragic fashion-- their typical personalities allow them to be both believable and somewhat predictable. When he uses these traits, which one must admit are (rightly or wrongly) considered the worst possible characteristics of the feminine gender, he creates some of the most detestable characters for his audience. These characters just so happen to work perfectly with his male character, who I think represents one of the most stereotypical pitfalls of the male gender-- male-chauvinism combined with inconsiderate licentiousness.

Writing this I realize that in today's society and I think in Sartre's not-so-distant-time, sexual sin was considered one of the worst sins, along with inconsiderate manipulation. If you think of it, these are betrayals of the only modern-day fealty we have left. Relationships are the ultimate fealty in today's society; they are built on trust that each partner will remain true, in heart, mind, and deed, to the other. This faith cannot be monitored or protected by contract; it relies upon trust and trust alone-- and when that trust is broken, it takes an emotional toll. Likewise, as a society (for the most part) we act under an assumption (or, perhaps, hold an ideal assumption with an amount of realistic distrust) that two human beings will show each other enough courtesy not to lie outright. Exterior and obvious dislike, even maliciousness, is better than faux friendliness hiding inward disgust and (worst of all) betrayal. We hope that another human will not lie to us, or use us, especially after building a relationship of trust-- but even short relationships based on what is assumed to be mutual need are understood to have an underlying bond of trust and good faith. Estelle, Inez, and Garcin all break these sorts of bonds-- they all betray modern-day fealty. Hence, they belong together, and they give each other a sort of symbolic retribution, constantly betraying each other's fealty for personal gain. So at first glance, Sartre may seem to portray stereotypes or display male-chauvinism, but I think he was above that. I think his reasoning behind his characters was much more complex, involving all the factors listed above and even more. Works of genius are never so one-dimensional.

puddlewonderful said...

GOD. I am SO SORRY ABOUT THAT POST.

Ehren said...

Michelle - why do u describe Inez as butch? I don't think Sartre described her as masculine. She was attracted to Estelle but I don't think she was portrayed as manly necesarily.

puddlewonderful said...

I was only using it as another way to portray her homosexuality.

stephen gieger said...

I think that the interactions between Inez and Estelle says alot about their relationship as well as satre's opinion about human nature. Estelle is so much in need to see her reflection that she must look into Inez's eyes. Estelle must have that gaze to confirm herself as a person, which relates her shallow nature.

puddlewonderful said...

Human nature? Stephen, you should be ashamed to use such a phrase after our lecture from Doc! :P

stephen gieger said...

I agree with Ehren that Garson also portrays flaws in the chatacter of Garson initially so that he is equally flawed as the women. The idea is that all three of them are equally flawed in that all three worry about the gaze of the others.

Dean Elazab said...

I find it amazing that you could have three people who would not stop fighting for all eternity. All of them worry so much about what others think and they all fear the gaze of the others. I think this is a great existential work.

stephen said...

I think that the simplicity of the torture is alot like that of Dante's inferno in that the worst sins had a fairly basic torture. Satin was simply frozen in a block of ice rather than the gluttons who were chewed on by cerberus while lying in sludge. The complexity of the torture is not as important as its symbolism.

Manal said...

I agree with Stephen. The simple torture is very symbolic but still creates some sort of fear. Living with two other people with no hope of agreeing and constantly arguing does not seem very enjoyable. However, Dante's sins were scarier, but this also serves its purpose, especially with the idea of the gaze in the book.