Sartre's Existentialism Analysis

3903 Words16 Pages
Existentialism, broadly speaking, it is a philosophy that posits itself against metaphysics. It claims to shift the focus of philosophical enquiry from the abstract to the concrete – that is, from an unchanging essence to the concrete, contingent human arena. This has been seen as the red herring of existentialism – if it speaks against an essence or an unchanging principle and focuses on concrete particulars, how can it be consolidated into a branch of philosophy? Existence is that which is; and essence is what it is. Philosophy has hitherto been the mediating point to explain the what. The earliest example would be Plato’s Republic, where the Idea is the essence and phenomenon is merely the imitation of the idea.
Sartre’s existentialism
…show more content…
What gradually happens is that the nurse confides in Elisabeth, talking incessantly of troubling instances from the past. Elisabeth gains her confidence by her understated affection and silence. Initially the nurse seems to be undergoing a talking-cure – their roles are reversed, the nurse is the patient and Elisabeth the doctor. Alma feels more and more under the influence of Elisabeth. Soon, however, there is a rupture, when Alma discovers a letter written by Elisabeth to her psychoanalyst, revealing Alma’s secrets and also saying that ‘it is fun to study her’. From this point onwards, the audience sees that unravelling of Alma, and she finds that she is completely in the power of Elisabeth. ‘It is fun to study her’ is a masterstroke in objectification and Alma finds herself slave to Elisabeth. They begin resembling the originary myth of the master-slave. Hegel’s master-slave is a reflection of social relations and the terms of the ‘unambitious nurse’ and the ‘great actress’ are bandied about, but this does not seem to be the emphasis of the movie. Persona psychologises the master-slave dialectic, showing both the slave and the master by turns as dependent and uneasy. There is even a physical scuffle that is a pretend fight-to-the-death. Sartre too talks about the master-slave in psychological terms. Popularised by the phrase ‘hell is the other person’ from No Exit, Sartre claims that dyadic relationships are designed for one to overpower the other, since its structure is that of two ‘freedoms’ trying to retain their autonomy. Autonomy for both is not possible due to the mutual ‘look’. Eventually, one person’s look objectifies the other, and the latter is under the influence of the former. In Persona there is a telling scene in which Alma imagines Elisabeth come into her room and look at her; while she
Open Document