Date of Award

2007

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Language

French

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

French

Advisor

Raymond Pelletier

Second Committee Member

Kathryn Slott

Third Committee Member

Cathleen Bauschatz

Abstract

Through this study, I propose to prove two things: firstly, that existentialism, above ail that of Simone de Beauvoir, is an optimistic doctrine because if we are truly free, the Other cannot be our hell, and secondly, that the novel Ail Men are Mortal présents a better example of French existentialism because it offers not only examples of how to treat the Other with badfaith, but also with authenticity. With this in mind, the study starts off with an examination of the main principals of French existentialism as they are defined by the philosophical works of Simone de Beauvoir and her partner Jean-Paul Sartre. We found that the existence of the Other's consciousness limits our freedom because we are not free to control it, that man cannot see his own image without the help of the gaze of the Other, and that the gaze of the Other is, at the same time, a necessity and an source of anguish. In order to delve further in this subject, a study of the principal thème, the Other, is presented through the novels She Came to Stay by Beauvoir and No Exit by Sartre which introduce the idea that "Hell is others". Next, the study continues through another of Beauvoir's novels, Ail Men are Mortal, which, in my opinion, gives us examples of reactions to the Other that are more detailed and more varied. The life of an immortal, as portrayed in AU Men are Mortal, served as a suprême example of the existential realities, for it represents humanity entirely, the inévitable circle of life and the contingence that time and death bring. We found that the necessity of being necessary can bring man down many roads, that in is anguish, he can turn to a life of badfaith, to exclusivism, to love, or even to murder, but also that he can choose to live with authenticity by accepting My freedom and that of Others, the contingency of everything, his limits and his responsibility. In considering thèse two choices as they are presented in the work of Simone de Beauvoir, we found that it is indeed not the rôle of Others to create our being, but that it is up to us to choose ourselves. Even though we need the eyes of Others, we can choose to whom we give the right to defïne us by choosing our companions. Therefore, we are truly free to choose ourselves and to create our reality by creating the world around us. It is always up to us to create our own heaven and our own hell. This renders the existential doctrine undeniably optimistic.

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