Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Estelle, an attractive young woman who lived in Paris, is the last of the protagonists to arrive in Hell. She is a total hypocrite who cannot accept the truth of her life or her death. She tries to convince the others that she married an old man for noble reasons; she also tries to make them believe that she has been sent to Hell by mistake. She does not even like to accept the fact that she is really dead; she asks Inez and Garcin to refer to death as an absence.
Estelle, who believes herself to be lovely and refined, finds the room in Hell pure torture. There are no mirrors in which she can admire herself; as a result, she must see herself through the eyes of Inez and Garcin, and they are not kind to her. Inez even taunts her by saying her hair is messed up and her face has a pimple. Estelle is also tortured by the fact that she has a strong desire for Garcin, who has no real interest in her. Throughout the play, she tries to convince him to hold her and make love to her. When he finally accepts the offer, he is frustrated in his attempt by the staring eyes of Inez; he finds it impossible to be intimate with her watching. Garcin's refusal is pure "hell" for Estelle.
Like Inez and Garcin, Estelle has the ability to look down to earth and see what is happening. When she sees Peter, another of her lovers, embracing another woman, she is horrified and claims that he is supposed to love only her. Inez cruelly reminds Estelle that she no longer has an influence on earth. She does, however, have a great influence in Hell. She tortures Inez by her very presence and constant rejection. She also unwittingly acts as the torturer of Garcin by luring him towards her and provoking his desire, which he cannot fulfil.
In order to seduce Garcin, Estelle tells him what he would like to hear. She says she does not care if he acted cowardly; her only concern is whether he kisses well. She has always been a mindless person with only concern for her personal satisfaction. Her desire for Garcin is so strong that when the door opens, she does not depart herself, but tries to push Inez through it. It is ironic that all through the play Garcin has sought the approval of Estelle; but in the end, it is Inez's approval that he seeks, for he has realized the total shallowness of Estelle.