Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

Tensions Between Culture, Social Norms and Family Expectations College

In Thérèse Raquin, Zola creates bodies criss-crossed by tension through contrasting his characters’ temperaments (the “natural” self) with their outward surroundings and circumstances (social norms, family expectations). It is the stark contrast between Thérèse’s mask of indifference and inner « sang africain » that creates extreme bodily tension when faced with her familial expectations, causing her to embark on a murderous love affair with Laurent. For Laurent, his sanguine, primal nature contrasted with the social norms associated with Parisian poverty force him to satiate his fleshy desires in Thérèse’s arms, creating tension when faced with Thérèse’s ardent, desperate love-making, foreshadowing the events to come. Madame Raquin is of particular interest, as one of the few character’s that is in a position of power, and thus encounters less dissention between her choleric nature and culture, as she is the deity dictating the family expectations and norms. Finally, Camille’s bodily tension is established through his desperation to be autonomous, frantically trying to deny his natural, phlegmatic self in order to fulfill his own idea of what constitutes a cultural norm and expectation. Through characterization, Zola seeks to...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1228 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 9433 literature essays, 2428 sample college application essays, 424 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in