Therese Raquin

Zola's Use of Setting in Therese Raquin 11th Grade

Emile Zola uses the setting within the novel Therese Raquin in order to deepen the meaning in the text, specifically focusing on the reoccurring imprisonment versus freedom theme. Interestingly, Zola often uses his freedom with choice of setting to display Therese’s imprisonment within her life. 

Zola starts the novel with the description of the Passage du Pont-Neuf in order to emphasize Therese’s imprisonment. The sky is described as “black and coarsely rendered, as if covered with leprous sores and zigzagged with scars” (7), negative connotations that symbolizes Therese’s unhappy life, marked by her oppressive childhood and arranged marriage.The description of the sky as "covered with leprous sores and zigzagged with scars” is an allusion to the decay of Therese’s spirit and passion, and the emphasis on the sky's darkness suggests Therese's inability to escape her situation. The light that does appear is “only a pale glow [which] falls on the pavement below in dim, flickering pools which sometimes disappear almost completely” (8), suggesting again the gloom that overwhelms any life or passion for Therese, who cannot live freely in her native Algeria. Just as the light...

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