Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dante’s Inferno and No Exit share the recurring use of “3” to explain Hell.

In Dante’s Inferno, the recurring number 3 kept coming out throughout the poem.  For example, there were three parts of the poem, three members of the Trinity, and three heads on Satan at the bottom of Hell.  Dante played on this usage of number 3 to show how Hell was the polar opposite of Heaven.  While reading No Exit, I noticed a similar coincidental usage of “3” again in the play.  Although the play is from a much different time period than Dante’s Inferno, it is interesting to see how the “three” characters in the play cause themselves so much torture.  The Hell in No Exit has no tortures that the characters do not cause themselves.  All torture is the product of the three characters Garcin, Estelle, and Inez.  This goes along with the play’s existentialist theme of choice.  The characters choices in life and their choices while together in Hell cause themselves torture.  All three characters are so different that they fight while together and make themselves miserable.  If there were only two characters in the Hell of No Exit the fighting would not be as bad, however three characters together leaves one person out which always leads to fighting. 


Linz A said...

Three is just a special number. (That's why it's my lucky number.) Yes, three is used in Dante's inferno and in No exit, literature relating to Hell, but the number three is also used in the Bible. Jesus was 33 when he died and his was one of three people crucified. He rose again on the third day and he is part of the holy trinity. Oh and three wise men come to visit baby Jesus. Three is used in other religions (Three Jewels of Buddhism) as well, I', just picking Christianity because I know it best. Three is just a well rounded number. Look at Harry Potter, the main characters form a trio. There are three witches in Macbeth and let's not forget the three musketeers and the three blind mice. I don't think it represents good or evil - three is just a really, really popular number.

Madeline Davis said...

I think this point is very interesting. I didn't notice the symbolism of the number 3 while I was reading No Exit, but it makes sense. I agree with your analysis of three being significant in that three characters creates the perfect amount of conflict in the play. With only two characters, there is a chance at happiness for a couple with coinciding interests, but achieving harmony among three people is difficult, especially among three very opinionated, secretive, and strong-willed people.