Menu

What You Thought These Famous Literary Quotes Meant VS. What They Actually Mean

Southwest Minnesota State University Theater

Credit:

No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre

Quote: "So this is hell. I’d never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the “burning marl.” Old wives’ tales! There’s no need for red-hot pokers. HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE!"

What you thought: I'm going to say this at a party the next time the music is too loud. People are the absolute worst, and I don't want to be around them. This quiz confirmed it.

But actually: What Sartre meant is that you can't understand who you are without seeing yourself reflected in other people. He isn't saying that people are so irritating, and they chew so loudly, and they smell. He's saying that seeing yourself through the eyes of other people can feel like torture. Here's the man himself: "When we think about ourselves, when we try to know ourselves . . . we use the knowledge of us which other people already have. We judge ourselves with the means other people have and have given us for judging ourselves. Into whatever I say about myself someone else’s judgment always enters.The hell is actually imagining how other people see you.

Topics: Books
Tags: romeo and juliet, shakespeare, alice in wonderland, hamlet, classic lit, classic literature, required reading, classic novels, lewis carroll, robert frost, richard iii, literary quotes, famous quotes, john keats, shakespeare's plays, the road less traveled, basically you've been wrong this whole time

Write your own comment!


About the Author
Taylor Noles

Taylor has very strong feelings about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her first name is actually Delaney, and her writing has appeared on VICE, NPR, and elsewhere. You can follow her on twitter @delaney_nolan

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.