He takes a deep breathand prepares to make this his last and final addition to life. Quietlyhe draws back from the church as if to stop time, this moment may definehim as a man. He turns to look at the priest as if to reply his answer,but suddenly he realizes the hand he is holding is as cold as death. Quicklyhe snaps back into reality recognizing he is not asking for his bride’shand in marriage, but burying her. Once again his mind tricked him intothinking that he was starting all over again with a new chance; however,as in life, sometimes there are no second chances. Dante’s Inferno and Jean Paul Sartre’sNo Exit illustrate irony in setting in similar ways, such that there areno second chances in life.
Both works take the readers into the minds oftheir authors where each author gives their interpretation of hell. Dante’sand Jean Paul Sartre’s works both have similar aspects of setting thatare expressed in similar styles. Through symbolism, representation, andfinite physical details each author establishesirony, yet also reinforces his theme. When Dante wrote The Inferno his mind thrived on the different levels ofinterpretation; likewise, Jean Paul Sartre’s mind thrived on this, andhe patterned No Exit after Dante’s work. The symbolism expressed in Dante’s Infernocorrelates directly, in some cases, to the play written by Jean Paul Sartre,No Exit.
Symbolism in both works cannot be defined by one level of thinkingand neither can it be comprehended on one level. However, symbolism inrelation to the setting of both works exhibits the nature of both writersto be very ironic in some cases. For example, throughout Dante’s Inferno,Dante makes many direct references to the light and the heavens: “Therefore,if you win through this gloomy pass and climb again to see the heaven ofstars when it rejoices to you . . .
” (p. 145, l. 82 -5). These references,also made in No Exit, reveal the irony that none of the inhabitants ofhell can ever see the light of God or, in Jean Paul Sartre’s perspective,will always be reminded of the light and the choice they made: “Alwaysbroad daylight in my eyes- and in my head. ” (p. 6) is another example ofironic symbolism, the mantle, found in No Exit and the evident referencesto heaven and the “true way” The Inferno.
Additionally, “Yes, now’s the moment; I’mlooking at this thing on the mantlepiece, and I understand that I’m inhell. “(p. 45): this direct quote from the play No Exit also captivatesDante’s exact meanings that while you are in hell you will constantly bereminded of thepath you chose not to take or the “trueway” you chose not to follow. Finally the last illustration of symbolismin No Exit is the mirror and in Dante’s Inferno the creatures of hell. The mirror, or the lack of, reveals the character’s weaknesses towardsthemselves. The character of Estelle had six mirrors in her lifetime andnow is sentenced in hell never to see herself again.
While for the othercharacters, Inez and Gracin, the lack of mirrors represents something else. For Gracin he sees mirrors everywhere, and this shows the torture he goesthrough in hell, being constantly reminded of his sins. On the other hand,for Inez her mirror is seeing Estelle, her object of desire, and Gracintogether forever, while also being constantly reminded of the sin, lust,she committed on earth. Dante’s work is much morerepresentative, and his creatures of helldisclose their symbolism in the guarding of the different circles of hell.
For example the Minotaur, once a great beast who guarded many, is now guardianof circle seven and will forever be reminded of his sins on earth due tothe fact his is the guardian of those who can never escape and his presenceis a struggle of unending hell. The sins of hell in The Inferno and NoExit both exemplify the notion thatthe sin you committed on earth is alsothe punishment you shall receive in hell. This notion is the basis of theirony, that what you could not live without on earth is the