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No Exit/Huis Clos by Jean Paul Sartre Summary - Complete Summary of No Exit Sartre (an existentialist play)

Updated on August 15, 2013

The French existentialist play: No Exit (Huis Clos)


Summary of Huis Clos/No Exit: Scene 1

Garcin enters a room that has a second empire style. He is accompanied by a Valet. Garcin has a talk with him and it is noticeable that Garcin is afraid of what is going to happen, but he doesn’t admit this. Garcin also learns about a bell, which he can press and the Valet will come. But the Valet also tells him that sometimes it doesn’t work. Garcin also asks more about the place and the Valet tells him that there are only more rooms and floors etc. In his free time, the Valet visits his uncle who is the head waiter.

Summary of Huis Clos/No Exit: Scene 2

This scene is the shortest of all. It is only two words long (without the stage direction). Garcin’s nervousness becomes more apparent and he also presses the bell, but it doesn’t work. The scene ends with the door opening.

Huis Clos by Jean-Paul Sartre


Summary of Huis Clos/No Exit: Scene 3

Inez comes into the room, accompanied by the Valet. Garcin and Inez have a talk together and Garcin proposes to Inez to not talk with one another and to be entirely quiet and for themselves and not to interact with each other. They also should try to be polite to each other. Suddenly, the door is opened again and Estelle enters the room.

Summary of Huis Clos/No Exit: Scene 4

The Valet asks Estelle if she wants to know something about this place, but she says no. The three of them all introduce themselves to each other.

Summary of Huis Clos/No Exit: Scene 5

The first four scenes are in comparison the fifth scene extremely short. In fact, the first four scenes make up only about 20% of the whole play in the French version. In the fifth scene, the actual plot starts. Note that this special kind of play does not have a “real” plot and for more information, the link to the analysis parts at the bottom should bring more clarity.

At the beginning, Garcin suggests not talking to one another and that everyone is left alone. His plan will not work out. Estelle has later an issue with not having a mirror and Inez offers her help. In this part, it becomes obvious that Inez desires Estelle. As mentioned the plan does not work out well and so they all start to talk about their pasts. But Inez is actually the only one who tells the truth right from the beginning though Garcin and Estelle tell a fake story that they do not know why they are here and that it must be a mistake.

Inez is homosexual and has been doomed already in life. Her cousin was married to a female person, whom she fell in love with. She manipulated their relationship over time and eventually, her cousin killed himself, jumping right into a passing train. Months later, the woman turned on the gas overnight and both of them died.

Estelle has been an orphan who had to look for her little brother and married later an elder man, so they could actually survive. Then there was a guy, whom she fell in love with, but refused a relationship with him for her marriage’s sake.
Garcin lived in Rio and and served for his country, but was shut dead.

Later on, the real stories unravel.

Estelle was a child murderer. She was, in fact, married to a rich man, but had a romance going on. She became pregnant by her lover and went away with him to Switzerland for four months. She was standing at the balcony with her new-born baby, holding it, but let it fall down into the lake and die. Her lover saw this all happening and soon after he has seen this, he committed suicide.

Garcin was torturing his wife mentally. He had an affair going on and he also brought her home often. His wife then had to prepare breakfast for them and bring it to their bed, while they were still lying in that bed. Garcin was also coward in certain situations. When the Second World War started, he wanted to sneak away to Mexico instead of fighting for his country.

Inez was the first one to realize that they are one anothers torturer, but at the same time, the victim. Estelle has a freak out and tries to kill Inez with a paper knife, but this will not work of course, as they are all already dead. They calm down and sit. After this, Garcin says “Well, let’s continue” and they spent the rest of all eternities together.

Stefan Zweig – Fear

Hermann Hesse – the Steppenwolf

Hermann Hesse – Siddharta

Hermann Hesse – Demian

Hermann Hesse – Narcissus and Goldmund

Hermann Hesse – Glass Bead Game

Jean-Paul Sartre – Huis Clos

Molière – The Imaginary Invalid

William Golding – Lord of the Flies

Bernand Shaw – Pygmalion

Vsevolod Garshin – A red flower

Viktor Pelevin – The life of insects

Tolstoy – The Death of Ivan Ilyich

More Summaries

Novalis – Heinrich von Ofterdingen

Goethe – Faust I

Goethe – Clavigo

Goethe – Iphigenie auf Tauris

Goethe – Egmont

Goethe – Stella

E.T.A Hoffmann – The Sandman

Joseph von Eichendorff – Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts

Joseph von Eichendorff – The Marble Statue

Joseph von Eichendorff – Schloss Dürande

Georg Büchner – Woyzeck

Movie: Huis Clos/No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre (in English)


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    • mbyL profile imageAUTHOR

      Slaven Cvijetic 

      7 years ago from Switzerland, Zurich

      thanks ;)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      very useful summary!


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