L’utilisation d’Inès Serrano dans la Pièce Huis Clos par Jean-Paul Sartre

Found an old paper of mine from when I was living in Arles, France.  For my History of Theatre course.

Kayla DeVault
Le 25 juillet 2013
L’histoire du théâtre

L’utilisation d’Inès Serrano dans la Pièce Huis Clos par Jean-Paul Sartre

La pièce du théâtre, Huis Clos, était publiée par Jean-Paul Sartre en 1944, juste avant de la fin de la deuxième guerre mondiale.  L’histoire est au sujet de trois personnes – Garcin, Inès, et Estelle – qui sont trappés ensemble dans une salle en Enfer.  Ils restent dans la salle et ne voient qu’un garçon a la porte fermée.  Après quelques temps, c’est évident qu’Inès aime Estelle, Estelle aime Garcin, et Garcin cherche pour leur foi de ses histoires et ses actions.  Ils torturent leur-mêmes par leurs pensées et leurs avis et chaque personne ne peut pas trouver un miroir pour voir soi-même comme il veut.  Sans miroirs et sans sortie, ils découvrent éventuellement qu’ils sont leurs tortureurs, l’un l’autre.

Huis Clos est souvent analysé pour ses manifestes politiques à cause de sa coïncidence et sa juxtaposition avec l’Occupation de la France par l’Allemagne pendant la guerre.  Sartre soi-même était une partie de la résistance contre cet Occupation.  L’écriture de cette époque et de la France était souvent une proclamation artistique et un peu dangereuse contre le gouvernement nouveau.  Cependant, il y a des autres parties scandaleuses dans Huis Clos en addition à la comparaison de l’Occupation à l’Enfer : Sartre, un hétérosexuel très connu, a souvent écrit des pièces avec des personnages homosexuelles.  En Huis Clos en particulaire, ce personnage est Inès Serrano.

La présence des personnages homosexuels en écriture pendant cette époque est vraiment plus rare et bizarre.  Pendant la guerre en particulier, il y avait beaucoup de haïr et peur autour du monde contre les blacks, les juives, et les homosexuels.  En lisant Huis Clos et réalisant l’utilisation d’un personnage homosexuel, on peut penser que Sartre suggère que les homosexuels sont damnés à cause de leurs choix.  Cependant, si on continue de lire le texte, on trouve qu’Inès est damnée à cause d’une « affaire avec Florence » (55), la femme d’un ami qui puis les a tué.  Elle suggère souvent pendant l’histoire qu’elle est une lesbienne avec des petites phrases, comme quand elle dit « en chemise ou non, je n’aime pas beaucoup les hommes » (34).  Donc des questions importantes restent pour demander : Pourquoi Sartre a choisi une lesbien pour comprimer une des quatre personnages dans cette pièce et comment elle effet l’histoire ?

La première observation est la plus simple : l’existence d’un personnage homosexuelle vraiment rend possible l’histoire.  C’était nécessaire de créer plus que deux personnages dans la salle pour ajouter la torture et les effets plus dramatiques sur les esprits de l’un l’autre.  On peut écrire une histoire avec deux hommes et une femme, mais la présence d’un lesbien dans Huis Clos supprime plus tension entre les personnages et limite les solutions possibles au problème romantique par les intérêts de chaque personnage.  Au contraire, quand il y a deux hommes et une fille, la fille peut change ses préférences sans réservation.  Les personnages dans Huis Clos ont un choix seul : Inès peut aimer Estelle et Estelle et Garcin peut aimer l’un l’autre, mais Garcin refuse.  C’est Inès qui a l’intelligence pour découvrir que « le bourreau, c’est chacun de nous pour les deux autres » (42).  Cette observation fait la distance entre les trois.

La deuxième observation est un peu plus complexe : avoir une personnage lesbienne comme Inès permit une contraste forte contre une personnage hétérosexuelle comme Estelle.  Estelle est très, très féminine ; elle est un peu bête et complètement consumée par les miroirs et son apparence.  C’est la même apparence et beauté qu’Inès adore.  Estelle refuse Inès, puis Garcin refuse Estelle comme il refuse la compagnie des deux femmes.

La personnage d’Inès donc a cette niche entre les autres : elle dote sur Estelle, conduit la femme de fuir a Garcin qui est compliqué par sa couardise.  Cette couardise, la cause de son abandonnement de l’armée, est la même chose qu’Inès se moque sans réserve.  Elle a une personnalité très forte, honnête, et direct.  Inès n’a pas peur de dire qu’ils sont « en enfer !  Damnés !  Damnés ! » (41), quelque chose qu’Estelle voudrait oublier.  Elle n’a pas honte de parler des choses qui blesse la fierté de Garcin, mais elle protège Estelle avec les mots doux et polîtes.  Inès est très directe, comme quand elle dit à Garcin « Ne me touchez pas.  Je déteste qu’on me touche.  Et gardez votre pitié. » (66)  Parce qu’Inès est une lesbienne, elle peut ignorer Garcin, être gentille avec Estelle, et donc conduire la torture mentale entre les trois sans révocation de son personnage naturel.

Avoir un personnage homosexuel dans Huis Clos est donc très vitale pour la compréhension de l’histoire.  Inès est la factor qui conduit naturellement le conflit et la torture mentale parmi les occupants dans la salle en Enfer.  L’utilisation d’un personnage comme Inès est encore rare pour l’époque, mais Huis Clos soi-même est vraiment radicale pour une histoire écrit pendant l’Occupation allemande de la France.  Sans Inès, on ne peut pas vraiment sens l’effet de l’Enfer français de l’époque.

Sartre, Jean-Paul.  Huis Clos.  Editions Gallimard, 1947.

occupée.

I love studying language, but it’s a lot of work.  Not just because you have to memorize and practice and repeat word upon word, though.  It’s a lot of work because each language – and each dialect of that language – requires learning the culture, too.  Sometimes it’s things like realizing, in French, it never rains cats and dogs but “Il pleut comme vache (cow) qui pisse”.  Other times, it’s things like realizing why Potawatomi Podawadomie Padwadadadada… or Ojibwe Ojibway Ojibjakwejralsjkdfasd… haha… why they’re spelled a million different ways, and none are incorrect.  Well, native languages were oral so it’s all phonetic.  (In Ojibwe and Potawatomi, for example, there are even two “methods” for written language – a single and a double vowel spelling.)

This past week, as I will be earning (or “winning” – gagne, in French) overtime money on a holiday week, I’m finding myself not only ridiculously overworked but also overlooked.  It’s like everyone forgets they sent me six emails between midnight and 5am with a stack of work to do the next day.  They’ll ask, “Can you do this or are you busy?”

Well, define busy.

It usually comes down to who is “less busy”.

So I was thinking about “busy” – I mean, what is busy?  And I’ve decided, in American English at least, it is a highly cultural word.  Working Americans are always “busy” – sometimes way more than European or Australian counterparts.  Overworked.  Never stopping.  As fast as replying as the Internet connection.

But in French, one would ask me, «Est-ce que vous êtes occupée ?» which literally means Are you occupied?  There is no “busy”, per se.

Cultural context, for sure.  In France, I would say that I’m occupied, surely, but in America, I might say I’m working on something – but that’s not busy enough and so here’s ten more assignments.  Of course, I’m not saying the French don’t respond the same way or take on more work.  It’s undeniable that their work culture is less stressful, as nearly every country in the world compared to America,… I just find the difference in words amusing.

Also, the word for a lawyer is avocat – the same word for avocado, hehehe.  In trouble?  Better get yourself a good avocado and go on into court.

nepal.

Nepal: One of the “Thinnest” Places on Earth

Have you ever heard of a “thin” place? No, not a place without McDonald’s or obesity. (On the contrary, there can be thin places in the US, where both of those things boom.) Instead, a thin place is described as a place of energy, a place where whatever divides the real world we live in and an eternal world beyond our reach is extremely thin, so thin that the two worlds nearly blend. Some people believe thin places are connected to God, but no one can deny that some places in nature – “thin places” – invoke an ethereal sensation, God-filled or not. I’m pretty certain the entirety of Nepal is a thin place.

The spiritual intensity of India can be ethereal, where strangers equate their guests to gods and you can wait hours pressed body-to-body in a sweaty temple just to be blessed by holy men. Waves lapping and then smashing the shores along the Blight of Benin is peaceful, terrifying, and an ethereal reminder of who’s in charge. Standing at a Buddhist temple on Mount Saleve, France, overlooking Geneva, Switzerland under a banner of prayer flags, cold air rushing up the mountain face – that was also ethereal. High altitudes and misty scenery is ethereal. Now, imagine combining all of those: altitude, scenery, the forces of nature. That’s like standing high in the Nepalese Himalayas. Up in these mountaintops, formed by clashing continents and which also host the great Mount Everest, one is greeted by a simpler life that is elevated both physically and spiritually. Picture solemn, dedicated, generous monks seeking retreat. (And don’t picture the ones setting themselves on fire in streets – that’s just to the north, in Tibet. Those are the monks that need to go to a thin place, or Nepal.)

There’s surely a reason why so many Hindus gather in these places, and it’s doubtful that Hindi Ghandi’s admiration of thin places is coincidence. But not all of Nepal is standing on a mountain top amongst trees full of prayer flags, crossing bridges in orange tunics, or eating dal bhat while cross-legged on the floor. Nepal is in fact divided by three regions which run east-to-west: mountains, hills, and the swampy terai. These regions are dissected by the river system, flowing north-to-south, making Nepal truly feel like an intersection of the forces of nature.

Of course, not all of the intersections in Nepal are the most pleasant. Since 1990, Nepal has managed to push through 500 years of governmental transformation in only a couple of decades. Yes, in 1990 Nepal was still a monarchy. This transformed into a Communist lead (well, it does border China) and is now finally a Republic. Yet, no matter how backwards Nepal might have been a few years ago, it is the first Asian country to not only abolish the death penalty but to also rule in favor of same-sex marriage. In Nepal, you can even declare yourself as a third gender – neither man nor woman. Wowzers! Basically, Nepal just wants people to be Yay! happy. And to not set themselves on fire.

The only thing about Nepal that does not lead to a happy, easy life seems to be the complete lack of efficient transportation. Sure, Nepal has 47 airports – but only 11 have paved runways. Most of the population has a 2 hour walk to the nearest all-season road, so don’t even begin to complain about 480 traffic. Basically, everything that geographically assists Nepal in being a thin place makes its transportation feel like a nightmare. And when it’s the rainy season, you can forget it. Fortunately, though, there’s no sense in having a car to get around Nepal. Just get yourself a bovine, load all of your belongings (three blankets, a wok, some tunics) on its back, and you’ll be riding in style, high up on those…15 hand shoulders. (Okay, it’s not 37 Nittos but it’s still cruisin’ for Nepal.) But, seriously, Nepal is one cool, thin place. And you should definitely try to land yourself there some day, in a tunic, on a cow, and while not setting yourself on fire.

Words of Wisdom: Perseverance

quoteQuote for today: “Forget all the reasons why it won’t work and believe the one reason why it will.”  I saw this quote regarding perseverance and liked its simplicity as well as how it has applied to the things I have done against popular belief and how I continue to do those things.  It’s easy to let people tell you why you can’t succeed.  Sometimes they say this out of statistical evidence, personal opinion, or even jealousy towards your visions.  I’ve always been one who thrives from doing things I’m told can’t be done.  I find being told it can’t happen makes me absolutely determined to do it.  Maybe this is why my athlete director sat me down once and said, “Kid, I really like you.  You’ve got… spunk.  And a lot of it.”  It was that spunk that pulled me through creating a hockey club at my school so that I could finally play the sport I wanted to play for an official team.  We lost all but one game the first season, then went to the championship the next year for the state medal.  My perseverance and persistence to raise $3000 in two days and train enough players to make a team landed me with an enormous scholarship from Case Western Reserve University.

The same time of perseverance is what got me a summer traveling abroad this year, to pursue a double major that the faculty thought was impossible to achieve.  Against all odds, I have completed enough credits for a major in Environmental/Civil Engineering and French while also being an active member in a co-ed service fraternity, archery club, collegiate and extracurricular roller and ice hockey, NCAA XC, NCAA T&F, Premiere Scottish Highland Dance, and several instrument groups.  I’ve managed to travel to a couple dozen countries in the last year to compete in research and pursue my dream of traveling and understanding cultures.  I obtained three internships during the course of a year when I was told none exist.  This lead me to compete in research with AISES in Alaska, a trip which was completely free thanks to funding I managed to find last minute from my school and the ASCE group in Cleveland.  But determination doesn’t have to be so elaborate.  It’s also the reason why I eat healthy food and work out regularly .  It’s why I pushed myself to bike around the Finger Lakes in 2009, hike the Calanques of Cassis and Marseille on my own this summer, and finish a 130km journey by CityBike from Arles to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse and back (the latter two are described on my blog, kfdevault.wordpress.com).

Let’s not be mistaken; this isn’t an entry about the things I’ve managed to do.  This is an entry about the things I’ve tried to do against popular belief as an inspiration of why you can do any of the simplest – or most complex – things you wish to do without hesitation.  If you want it, just get it.  I’m a firm believer in “If there’s a will, there’s a way”.  Maybe I’ve just been lucky enough for my life to follow suit as such, or maybe there really was something in my perseverance that landed me with a great job after years of struggle against the current of likelihood.  All I can say is, whether it’s a new job, new hobby, or new diet, you just have to convince yourself it’s what you want and you’d be surprised how thrilling the journey to success will actually be.

Happy Monday!

 

France-Enamored Americans: Love or Lust?

I have finally arrived in France after a long time traveling across Asia and Eastern/Central Europe. The last bits of my trip brought me through Venice and some other extremely touristy cities in Europe. As I sat back in some cafes, I observed the behavior of many tourists. The ones who stand out the most are always the photogenic Asians, the loud Brits, and ignorant Americans.

This isn’t my first time in France, but I am again dumbfounded by the cults of young women who flood the south of France, Paris, and fashion capitols across Europe, dying to “experience the culture” and indulge…but in what? In clothes, food, and boys. I’m not saying that my student group in IES is full of people like this; in fact, I’ve been quite impressed by the mix of people genuinely exploring the area for diligent work and culture experience. No, I’m referring to past experiences and current observations outside of my group.

Did you know there are H&M stores all across Europe? That many European youth in fact strive to be American-dressed, American-fed, and American-serenaded? Yes, while young women and other adults across America are dying to “experience France”, the youth over here are having quite the opposite desire. But what is the draw to France? Why do so many young women I know at home take French lessons, study journalism and fashion, read silly magazines, and eat at fancy restaurants so they can show off how to pronounce the names of foreign foods? It’s NOT a LOVE of FRANCE. They don’t care about the culture, about the politics, about the dirty facts about poverty and immigration and daily life in the not-so-fancy corners of the country. Not at all.

These are today’s youth who LUST over the IDEA of France, the images you see in those glossy magazines, the zombie-like models totting clothes that look absolutely ridiculous but that we are TOLD looks “fashionable” (ha!), the wine and the cheese… They want to lay in the sun and bask in what THEY view to be life in France. They turn their noses up at the most pungent of the cheeses and instead settle for things within their comfort zones. They avoid foie gras or pieds de cochons, or anything mildly ambitious that goes outside of their comfort zone.

These people, my friends, are the future generations and the people who spoil the image of American tourists for the rest of us. This ignorance plagues me and the vanity makes me nauseous as I sit at a cafe and juxtapose life here to my days passed at Luna Cafe at school. I dress to fit in, to respect, to not stand out. I don’t dress to make a scene, to become the new “It Girl”, or whatever it is these silly girls lust over these days. I have had quite enough of friends who come here for the boys, for shopping, for not speaking the language, and for picking through McDonald’s and other American treats. For shouting and being obnoxious and getting attention. For staring at themselves in the mirrors and taking photos of themselves to plaster online so everyone can tell them how adorable and “French” they are.

Please, indulge in the Love of France and not the Lust.