The Ladies Paradise

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Zola's portrayal of men and their attitudes towards women may be the relation between that of, the controller and the controlled. One is made to believe that it is the men who control the women, and although this is the case in most instances of the Ladies Paradise, there are two people who ensue in resisting against all odds, at being run over by the machine that captivated and engulfed the late nineteenth century bourgeois household unit. They are the elegant Mademoiselle Boudu and the brushy eye browed Monsieur Bourras. One of the main characters Monsieur Mouret ("governor" of the Ladies Paradise) spectacularly uses the lower classes as a tool to increase the perception of happenings in his store. So as to invoke middle class ladies of France not only to enter his palatial trap set for the nineteenth century consumer, but as well to create their desire of acquiring greater material possessions than they may actually need. Another implication is the insatiable consumer appetite created by Mouret results in the development of kleptomania, exemplified in the latter stages of the book by a bourgeois wife of a Magistrate, Madame de Boves, as well as long time employees of the department store. Mouret is the quintessential renaissance man of France with his dashing ways of charming women and subduing them to his desires whilst having them believe that his actions are in their favor and interest at all times.

Monsieur Mouret had the utmost respect for women and their habits; this is the case until his boredom with them in his private life overwhelms his desires for them, in which case he moves on to the next victim. In the public arena he continually portrays himself as a gentleman of gentleman, when in fact he is more to likes of a modern day Agro-Rancher feeding and herding his chattel and releasing them when he is through with their whims, fully knowing that they will return to him when they are hungry. And even their hunger is driven on by his schedule, for onlookers gaze in astonishment when the gates are closed, suppressing their appetites in delight that they will be once again fulfilled when the "governors" gates reopen. "The door knobs had been removed, and the people on the pavement were stopping to look through the windows, surprised to see the shop closed when there was such extraordinary activity going on inside" (p.276). In previous sales of the Paradise, Mouret had placed chintzy items that were of low value and low cost nearest to the entrance, to entice the lower classes to come in and give the impression that the whole shop was in a flurry of activity. The patrons were accustomed to this activity equating it to excitement thereby ensuing intrigue, that although in this previous instance the stares were merely of employees taking stock, the chattel were anticipating their next meal. Being that this was on a Sunday too, one is moved to assume that this is the beginning of religion taking a seat to the periphery in contrast to consumerism. For in the introduction of the novel it is mentioned of the new public sphere in which women enjoyed the benefits of what was before only open to the majority of men. That is the benefits of leisurely activities like dinning, spectacle, and evening public conversation. Where before their main outlet was the church where women congregated and enjoyed each other's company outside the household sphere. The department store was now, in essence, the new place to see and bee seen, for now it was the admiration of the "golden calf." Yet there is one who takes part in the maniacal rouge knowingly, yet still unaware of the full scheme; the initially gangly and later goddess like, Denise Boudu personifies her.

Mademoiselle Boudu is the one is to avenge for all women, the way Mouret sees women as a tool for his desires. For Denise is a simple young woman, thrust into a paternal life of watching after her two younger brothers, and all the while she...
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