• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

A study of illegitimacy in Zola's Therese Raquin and Isabelle Allende's The House of the Spirits.

Extracts from this document...


A study of illegitimacy in Zola's Therese Raquin and Isabelle Allende's The House of the Spirits. Illegitimacy has always been stigmatized in society, particularly throughout the nineteenth century. This is reflected in literature by characters who are portrayed using stereotypical features of illegitimacy like avidity, intensity or vehemence. The prejudice was that children who are conceived in lust and irresponsibility will result in more sensual and fiery personalities. I will base my study of illegitimate children in literature on the characters of Therese Raquin in Therese Raquin and Esteban Garcia in The House of the Spirits. To study the way in which the two authors portray illegitimacy, Esteban Garcia who is Esteban Trueba's illegitimate grandson and Therese Raquin, who is also an illegitimate child, will be compared. Even though it can be argued that these two characters lived in completely different times and have personalities that differ greatly, their illegitimacy and the prejudice that surrounds it brings them together. Because of the stereotype that comes with children who are born outside of marriage, authors sometimes write characters who are particularly passionate, unstable emotionally or impulsive as illegitimate. ...read more.


Perhaps this was because being seen as an outsider brought on frustration and resent towards society. In The House of the Spirits, Esteban Garcia clearly demonstrates resent as he speaks of Alba as "She embodied everything he would never have..."(p.328) : "He, barefoot in the mud, swore that one day he would make her pay for her arrogance and avenge himself for his cursed bastard fate." (p.469) Esteban Garcia kept to his promise and later on tortured and sexually abused Alba for weeks. In Therese Raquin, this kind of lower status is also seen. The novelist sometimes describes Therese as he would a domestic animal. She sounds like a type of apathetic pet who lacks a soul and personality: "She had always shown such passive obedience that her aunt and husband no longer bothered to ask her opinion. She went where they went, did what they did, without a word of complaint or reproach, without even appearing to notice that she was moving at all." (p.43) It is as though the Raquin family had adopted a wild beast and tamed it into a pet. Zola does however, reveal Therese's true impulsive nature by sudden outbursts. ...read more.


In Therese Raquin, even though Therese's strong sexual desires lie dormant inside of her until she releases them using Laurent, they rise up at times and also appear as violent outbursts. As she lies in bed next to her child-like, sickly husband who satisfies none of her needs, she seems taken over by her aching lust: " ...I used to bite my pillow to stifle my cries, hit myself, call myself a coward. My blood boiled, and I could have torn myself to pieces." This shows Therese's fake, rational side battling against her true, instinctual self. In the example of these two books, The House of the Spirits and Therese Raquin, the most passionate, lustful and violent character is illegitimate. This is not a coincidence as society has portrayed them in that way for centuries. They are "the other", they are alienated individuals who's frustration build up and often leads them to a break down. As these children who were born outside of marriage were immediately considered as animal humans and grew up in a society that rejected them, this hate surrounding them could possibly have forged them into more emotional, resentful and tormented adults. For authors, writing sick, perverted or wild characters as illegitimate helps prejudicial readers to give a logical explanation to the character's behaviour. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Developmental Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work