Plot V Style - Therese Raquin

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Though literature, like all art forms, is subjective, people never hesitate to critique it as if their word were final. Book critics usually prefer novels which cleverly encompass all aspects of literature. This includes plot and style, but also an array of other aspects. However, if one were to prioritize, would style and language trump plot? It all depends on themes. For example, Emile Zola, while writing Therese Raquin which focuses on human behavior in a psychological novel, might put emphasis on plot to get his point across. But if his language is faulty, his style ambiguous; then will the reader truly understand Zola’s intentions?

Style in a novel is the author’s technique, such as his diction or syntax. However, because the version of the book being investigated is a translation, we mustn’t look too far into diction. But style also sets the tone of the chapter, paragraph, and the entire novel. Therese Raquin may have a killer plot, but can the reader really understand the novel if they cannot identify the tone? From the very beginning, we can identify the tone as bleak and depressive, when Zola is describing Rue Du Pont Neuf at the very first page, and writes “This arcade is some thirty paces long and no more than two wide; it is paved with yellowish flagstones, worn, uneven, permanently exuding an acrid-smelling damp, and is covered by a right-angled glass roof black with grime.” One can immediately identify the morbid tone in this passage. If Zola were to write “the arcade is long and narrow, with flagstones and a rather dirty glass roof” no type of tone could be interpreted, or if it could, it would be one far from that of which Zola intended. Similarly, toward the end of the book on page 166, when Madame Raquin, paralysed and weak, attempts to denounce Laurent and Therese’s actions to the guests, Zola described the lovers’ reaction: “Therese could not speak; she, like Laurent, had followed the paralytic woman’s extreme efforts and was now staring...
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