Dirty Hands

Jean Paul Sartre 1948

Dirty Hands


The Burden of Existence
Karsky: I saw your father last week. Would you still be interested in any news of him? Hugo: No Karsky: It is very likely that you will bear the responsibility for his death Hugo: It is practically certain that he bears the responsibility for my life, so we’re even.
Dirty Hands 2

Man is condemned to be free - Existentialism is a Humanism
Dirty Hands 3

Existentialism of Sartre
We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are - that is the fact Everything has been figured out, except how to live Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you God is absence. God is the solitude of man It is only in our decisions that we are important
Dirty Hands 4

Jean Paul Sartre 1905 - 1980
Orphaned at 15 months - brought up by his maternal grandfather Studied Philosophy at Ecole Normale Superieure - Meets Simone de Beauvoir Joins French Army 1939 - Taken prisoner of war by Germans - later released for poor health Founder member of underground resistance movement Socialisme et Liberte Leads anti French colonialism movement in Algeria Embraces Communism Along with Bertrand Russell opposes Vietnam War Defends Munich Olympic Massacre of 1972
Dirty Hands 5

Existential Ethics
Being true to yourself - authenticity Freedom of action determines authenticity - we are nothing but what we make of ourselves Take full responsibility for your actions - even over things you have no control on

Dirty Hands


The Setting
Country: Illyria - Eastern Europe Period: Later part of WW II Regent (a fascist) is an ally of Germany Soviet Army is fast advancing Two underground resistance movements - PP (Proletarian Party - Communist) and Pentagon (Nationalist Bourgeoisie)
Dirty Hands 7

The Main Characters
Hugo Hoederer Jessica (Hugo’s wife) Olga Louis

Dirty Hands


The Circumstances
Regent wants to secure his post war position moots a secret pact with PP and Pentagon Difference of opinion in PP on ideology (Louis) vs. expediency (Hoederer) Louis and Olga plan to have Hoederer killed though Hoederer has mandate of majority in the Central Committee Hugo - a young recruit of bourgeois background volunteers - to prove himself
Dirty Hands 9

The Plot Unfolds
Hugo joins as resident secretary to Hoederer Jessica accompanies him - she finds a pistol in his belongings - Hugo tells her it is to kill Hoederer Hugo and Jessica’s belongings are searched as a routine by Hoederer’s guards Jessica hides the pistol Hugo has brought in her undergarments - they avoid being caught
Dirty Hands 10

Hoederer meets the Prince and Karsky
They work out a war time and post war arrangement of working together Hugo bursts out A grenade comes crashing in through the window Nobody is seriously injured Hugo feels cheated by Louis and Olga - it was Olga who threw the grenade
Dirty Hands 11

In Hugo’s Room
Olga tells Jessica the party thinks Hugo is a traitor - not having killed Hoederer yet She gives him one more day though - leaves Hoederer visits Hugo - to gauge him? Jessica initiates Hugo into a dialogue with Hoederer on how he’s acting a traitor

Dirty Hands


Dialogue with Hoederer
Hoederer - The arrival of the Soviet Army will not be the solution - but we must use it to bargain Hugo - Contamination of ideas, collaboration with class enemies, compromise… Hoederer - If you do not want to take chances you shouldn’t be in politics Hugo - What about the comrades who died Hoederer - I don’t give a damn for the dead. They died for the party, and the party can decide as it sees fit about them. I pursue a policy of the living for the living
Dirty Hands 13

Hugo - You will lie to people Hoederer - Sometimes Hugo - All means are not good Hoederer - All means are good when they’re effective… Hoederer - I have dirty hands…I’ve plunged them in filth and blood…Do you think you can govern innocently
Dirty Hands 14

Jessica and Hoederer
Jessica who is shown to be ‘cold’ is infatuated (or fascinated) with Hoederer She tells Hoederer of Hugo’s intention - but Hoederer had already known Hoederer says he will not harm Hugo Jessica - Have him disarmed gently… Hoederer - No. That would humiliate him. One shouldn’t humiliate a man. I’ll talk to him
Dirty Hands 15

Hoederer and Hugo
Hoederer discusses his stand with Hugo Hugo is not convinced Hoederer gives him an opportunity to kill him by turning his back to get coffee - Hugo doesn’t act Hoederer takes the gun from Hugo Hoederer - …revolution is not a question of virtue but of effectiveness…the best work is not the work which takes the most sacrifices. It’s the work in which you can best succeed
Dirty Hands 16

Hoederer and Hugo…
Hugo has already started liking (loving?) Hoederer for his authenticity Hugo - …and I know now that I could never shoot you because - because I like you However, Hugo cannot give up on his conviction Hugo goes out for a while
Dirty Hands 17

Hoederer’s Killing
Jessica enters - confesses that she wants Hoederer She wishes to find out whether she is really cold - and wants Hoederer to take her Hoederer is tempted to kiss her Enter Hugo - he shoots Hoederer Guards come in - Hoederer dying, tells them not to harm Hugo - that he had been sleeping with his wife
Dirty Hands 18

Was it Jealousy?
Hugo - Never Mind, Jessica. I’m not sore at you and I’m not jealous; we weren’t really in love. But he, he almost took me in: ‘I’ll help you….He didn’t give a damn for me Later in Olga’s house Olga - …weren’t you jealous? Hugo - …Jealous? Perhaps. But not about Jessica Hugo - I loved Hoederer…I loved him more than anyone in the world…It’s not my crime that tortures me but the fact that he’s head
Dirty Hands 19

Is Hugo Salvageable?
Olga realizes that Hugo’s was not a crime of passion but Raskolnikov must die - he died of eating poisoned chocolates in prison Hugo can be back in the party with a new name But the Louis and Olga have now made a volte face taking on Hoederer’s stand on Soviet diktat Hugo is also not taking pride in his killing - the change in party line will not pose an ideological problem (or will it?)
Dirty Hands 20

Hugo’s Death
Hugo doesn’t know why he killed Hoederer but feels it was the right thing - though not at the right time He also liked Hoederer and wishes him to have a death for his ideas - a death he deserves Hugo declares himself unsalvageable so that Hoederer’s death is not demeaned - that he was killed over a woman Hugo is killed…
Dirty Hands 21

Ethics & Leadership of Hoederer
From a teleological point of view - may have been justified - avoidance of bloodshed Ethics of respect - did not want to humiliate Hugo Ability to influence people Good personal character Cares for people Sound decision maker Not impulsive
Dirty Hands 22

Ethics of Hugo
Authenticity Honest about his feelings Sound deontological ethics

Dirty Hands


Thank You

Dirty Hands