Jean-Paul Sartre's original views of freedom were entirely metaphysical. In his book Being and Nothingness, Sartre had a number of ideas about how human consciousness was the key of ontological freedom. He claimed that this was the case because of human consciousness' unique ability to function "above" its current situation. Put simply, consciousness, or simply abstract thought, allows the mind to focus on things that are not necessarily immediate, and therefore, the experience is one of freedom. Not only is a conscious being uniquely capable of freedom, according to Sartre, it is impossible for a ordinary human to not be free, as a state of consciousness is one of natural freedom.
In regard to No Exit, freedom is explored through the point of view of three characters who are experiencing Sartre's take on the presumably Biblical hell. Instead of physical torture however, they are simply trapped in a furnished room with one another. Sartre is most famous for his quote "hell is other people." This is explained by human beings' tendency to allow other humans' opinions and thoughts to shape their decision-making and actions out of fear of sovereignty over their own actions. Since a human being is simply a collection of actions and decisions, humans with this tendency allow others to shape their consciousness. In this way, they concede their freedom
Sartre believed that instead of taking responsibility for their choices and accepting the consequences, the majority of people would sooner be able to find fault in external factors, sparing themselves the consideration that they themselves the source of their misery or inadequacy. The characters in the room are all chosen for each other because their individual selves are predisposed to be at intense odds, to the point that when to door of the room opens, no character will leave. Garcin, in particular, requires validation from Inez before he will leave. He cannot face freedom without external approval from another person. From Sartre's point of view, such a human being is not free and may as well not even be conscious.