An Analysis of Estelle's Deserved Punishment and Suffering in No Exit, a French Play by Jean-Paul Sartre

Categories: Philosophy

Why did Estelle deserve the punishment and suffering she endured in the room as it fit her crimes?

Estelle deserved the punishment and suffering that she endured in the room in No Exit because the crimes she committed during her life were born from evil. In the beginning of the novel, it is learned that Estelle met a man who just so happened to be three times her age and they decided to marry each other. A short while after, Estelle says that she crossed paths with the man that she was fated to love and began having an affair with him.

As highlighted and bolded in the story, the traits of vainness and promiscuity consume Estelle and paint her to be a very unlikeable being. Estelle also vibrantly displays that her appearance is one of, if not the most important aspect of life in her eyes. Seeking sexual validation from others is her number one and central goal to attain.

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The crimes in the story that match Estelle are deceit, adultery and murder. Estelle expresses to Garcin how she met her husband and that he was “old enough to be her father”, she then proceeds to tell him how she “met the man that she was fated to love” (Sartre 10). After she informs Garcin on her past, she proceeds to attempt to defend and justify what she’s done by saying “No doubt, by certain standards, I did wrong to sacrifice my youth to a man nearly three times my age.

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Do you think that could be called a sin? (Sartre 10)” Instead of acknowledging how it was wrong of her to have an affair while she was married, she resorted to claiming how she was wrong for marrying an older man and “sacrificing her youth (Sartre 10)”. Estelle committed adultery and showed no remorse or regret for doing so, as supported by the text. While Estelle was tied up in an affair with her “true love” (Sartre 10) and a marriage with an older man, she became pregnant. While Estelle and Roger were in Switzerland, they discovered that she was pregnant. Estelle stated that “it pleased him no end, having a daughter. It didn’t please me! (Sartre 16)” After she had the baby, she decided to take matters into own hands and get rid of the burden that was her and Roger’s daughter. She went to the balcony and dropped the baby girl, along with a stone in the ocean and killed her. As a result of the murder of their daughter, Roger committed suicide by “blowing his brains out (Sartre 16)” Garcin suggests. Because Estelle is such a vain individual, she seldom cares about others and places her wants in front of others. For example, even though Roger was ecstatic to finally have a child, she still murdered the baby for the simple reason that she didn’t want to have her. Also, when Estelle is detailing the series of events that took place after the baby was killed, she states “I came back to Paris-and he did as he wished (Sartre 16)” This comment reassures the reader that Estelle never truly cared about her husband, nor does she care about those around her. Estelle was a deceitful wife and an adulterer due to the fact that she cheated on her husband with another man. Her title as a murderer was given to her when she murdered her child by way of drowning and when she caused her husband to resort to taking his own life.

The crimes that Estelle partook in are cruel, selfish and vicious. Estelle took it upon herself on more than one occasion to commit acts for the self-centered wellbeing of herself and the demise and hurt of those who surrounded her. Because she committed these crimes and made the people around her miserable and endure detestable punishment, she is absolutely deserving of being mentally and emotionally tortured in that room. When Estelle stepped out on her husband and had an affair with the so called “man that she was fated to love (Sartre 10)”, she was making her husband suffer through his life knowing that she wasn’t faithful to him and with the background thought that he wasn’t good enough to be her husband. “It was absurd of him, really, my husband never sus-pected anything. [A pause.] Oh, how I loathe you! [She sobs tearlessly.](Sartre 16)” Throughout the novel, Estelle continuously tried to justify her actions or deny some aspect of what she did in the past. In the inserted quote, Estelle is trying to convince Garcin and Inez that her husband was unaware of the affair she was having and the reader is able to see that Estelle is now beginning to crumble and feel the effects of the torment that room is intended to cause. Since she made her husband endure a lifelong feeling of suffering and torment to the point where he resorted to taking his own life, she deserved to feel the same way in that room. The next crime that Estelle was responsible for in her past life was the murder of her newborn daughter. Murder can be deemed as the worst crime that one can commit, taking someone’s life is one of the harshest and detestable crimes that someone can carry out. When Estelle became pregnant, she was upset and regretful about it because she wasn’t “pleased (Sartre 16)” with having a daughter. On the other hand, Roger was very excited and joyful about having a daughter and nothing in the world seemed to make him happier. “There was a balcony overlooking the lake. I brought a big stone. He could see what I was up to and he kept on shouting: “Estelle, for God’s sake, don’t!” I hated him then. He saw it all. He was leaning over the balcony and he saw the rings spreading on the water—(Sartre 16) “Explained by this quote, Estelle killed the baby because she wanted to and didn’t care how her husband felt. The mental and emotional murder of Estelle was befitting of the narcissistic and vain life that she lived on Earth. On the contrary of this claim, I believe that if Inez was the one who tried to kill Estelle instead of Estelle trying to kill Inez, it would be more deserving of Estelle because she would get a glimpse of what it feels like being on the opposing side of someone trying to end their life for their own selfish reason. Although, the events of Estelle trying to kill Inez just go on to prove who Estelle is and why she is in the predicament that she is in.

Murder and adultery are two crimes that leave at least one person being hurt and destroyed mentally, emotionally and/or physically. When someone finds out that their spouse is unfaithful, they begin to believe that they aren’t good enough and they start feeling the effects which leave them sad, angry and/or depressed. This is what Roger felt when Estelle cheated on him with another man and showed no remorse for doing so. Murder is blatantly the killing of another person. It is clear that murder is harmful to the person who is being murdered, but what about the people that feel the effects of losing that person? It leaves them confused, angry and depressed. When Estelle murdered her and Roger’s child, this is what he felt and the effects became so toxic that he ended up taking his own life. Estelle lived a life that was filled with causing other people anguish and leaving them distraught, all for her own personal selfish reasons. The room that she was placed in in “No Exit” was no mistake, she was placed there to be forced to confess to her wrongdoings and be returned payback for what she had done.


Paul Sartre, Jean. No Exit. 1st ed. Vanderbilt, 1944. Web. 12 Dec. 2015

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An Analysis of Estelle's Deserved Punishment and Suffering in No Exit, a French Play by Jean-Paul Sartre. (2022, Mar 30). Retrieved from

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