Many years ago in high school, I had to read and write an essay about the theatre play ‘Huis clos’ (or ‘No exit’ in English) by Jean-Paul Sartre. It wasn’t easy to read such philosophical text in French, but I couldn’t put the little book down. In fact, I read it for a second time immediately after finishing it.
The play is about life after death, more specifically in hell. But this image of hell is nothing like the common beliefs about it in society. No devil with pointy horns, no eternal fire, no physical torture. Instead, three people are put together in one room for eternity. There is no place to hide from each other and no way out. There is no day and night, just eternity.
I will keep the detailed version of this vision of hell for you to read. I found it fascinating and horrible at the same time. I imagined myself in the situation of the characters in the book and couldn’t help to find this idea of hell possibly closer to reality than what I had heard and read about it before.
It interests me to think about these topics, although I don’t think there is a way of knowing other than actually leaving this life. I doesn’t make me afraid. To me, it is not more probable that there is a heaven and hell than there being only a blissful nothing. I will definitely read this play again and possibly read more of Sartre’s writings.
‘So this is hell. I’d never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the “burning marl.” Old wives’ tales! There’s no need for red-hot pokers. Hell is—other people!’ ~ Jean-Paul Sartre