Theresa Raquin

Topics: Thérèse Raquin, Guilt, Anxiety, Philosophy of life, Morality, Free will / Pages: 8 (1817 words) / Published: Dec 12th, 2012
Catherine O’Leary
French 3270W
Final Paper
December 7, 2011
Émile Zola: Thérèse Raquin In the novel, Thérèse Raquin, the author, Émile Zola, presents the reader with a story of characters that undergo the fight between free will and fate. The principle of free will is reoccurring in the realm of naturalism, which is the foundation of all of Zola’s literary works. Thérèse and Laurent, the main characters, had committed adultery, murder, and then had to deal with the consequences of their actions. Zola brings the reader to analyze what had motivated them to commit this immoral behavior and what it did to torture the rest of their lives. He presented the characters with a lack of control over their instincts which emphasized the strength of fate over one’s free will. Zola writes with a scientific approach as there are emotional events yet it is vacant of any emotion. He portrayed the characters as human brutes and their functioning resembled that of a machine. This principle of fate overpowering free will had an impact on the characters lives both physically and morally as it is evident throughout their miserable existence preceding their crimes. The consequences of their animalistic actions left them with horror filled hallucinations, physical ailments, unhealthy relationships, and no will to live. Zola explains this questionable behavior by attributing a lack of control over their decisions and a 3 of emotion in their reaction to what they had done. This brings the reader to discover this battle between one’s free will and the uncontrollable fate present in their lives Without free will, the characters, especially Laurent and Thérèse have lost hope in gaining control over their lives. They were having an affair and viewed Camille’s existence as a burden, and this instinct drove them to their actions. In a sane mind, that would not seem like a rational evaluation of a situation. This reoccurring lack of control over their immediate



Cited: Zola, Émile. Therese Raquin. London, England: Penguin Books, 1962. Print.

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