Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


LACS: French

First Advisor

Sara Kippur


This thesis explores Jean-Paul Sartre’s depiction of women in theater, focusing on the female characters of The Respectful Prostitute (1946) and No Exit (1944). More specifically, I argue that Sartre presents women who reject normative conceptions of femininity prevalent in France during the twentieth century. Using Claire Duchen’s Women’s Rights and Women’s Lives in France 1944-1968 to provide a baseline understanding of gender roles during this time, I illustrate the ways in which the plays’ female characters “fail” to adhere to stereotypical notions of femininity in the realms of motherhood and sexuality. My argument is informed by a variety of supporting materials, including Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, theoretical texts by Sartre, and secondary scholarship surrounding the two plays. Ultimately, my analysis reveals how the women of The Respectful Prostitute and No Exit are only allowed to freely exhibit their non-normative femininities within the fictional worlds of the two plays. Thus, Sartre uses theater as a means of critiquing the misogynistic attitudes rampant during the mid-twentieth century in France.


Senior thesis completed for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Language and Culture Studies in French.