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How important is Therese's illegitimacy in your view of her character?

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Introduction

How important is Therese's illegitimacy in your view of her character? At the time that Emile Zola wrote Therese Raquin, there was prejudice about illegitimate children. It was believed that children conceived in lust and irresponsibility would grow into lustful, powerful, passionate and sensual adults. Almost animals that cannot control their impulses. Whether Zola agreed with this is debatable but by looking at Therese's character, there are obviously elements of her personality that can be compared to the idea people had about illegitimate children. However, it is important to mention that Therese has african blood running through her veins which could also contribute greatly to her intense personality. Throughout the beginning of the novel, Therese appears to be a calm, polite and caring person. ...read more.

Middle

He will continue to take this drug for eight months but instead of satisfying Therese's sexual needs, it only makes them more intense. Therese Raquin is known to be Zola's first naturalist novel. Naturalism was all about studying the human nature in a very scientifical way. As Zola said, " j'ai choisi des personnages souverainement domines par leurs nerfs et leur sang, depourvus de libre arbitre, entraines a chaque acte de leur vie par les fatalites de leur chair." By this, he explains that he chose characters who could not control their impulses, who were driven by lust, nerves and blood to an extent where they had no free will anymore. Zola even admits that Laurent and Therese have no soul and that is the way he wanted it. ...read more.

Conclusion

I do not know wether Zola agreed with all the prejudice that surrounded illegitimacy. However, the fact that Therese is an illegitimate child contributes greatly to her character in terms of how people would expect her to behave while reading the book and what they would consider acceptable. The novel was very criticised. Considered pornographic and shocking. Making the main character a social outcast was perhaps a way to explain the outcome of the book in the public's eyes. It becomes more believable, almost expected. If Therese had been a countess with a good reputation, the story might have simply become ridiculous. Her illegitimacy also contributes as it complements her character, it is one of her traits, part of who she is. Her african origins and illegitimacy allow her to become such a fascinating character that is isolated from society in order to be forgotten about. ...read more.

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