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Physiology is a question of physical being, animal instincts and nature.

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Introduction

Physiology is a question of physical being, animal instincts and nature. It was a popular theme among naturalist writers in the 19th century. Th�r�se Raquin by Emile Zola is a novel that fits into this category. A physiological novel is a question of physical existence and reactions to experiences, there is no scope for guilt, remorse or conscience as these are not animal traits. After receiving many criticisms about Th�r�se Raquinl being pornographic, Zola wrote a preface to his second edition in which he emphasises that Th�r�se Raquin is a physiological novel with 'un but scientifique avant tout'1. Although Th�r�se Raquin has been described as 'Zola's most deliberate attempt to apply physiology to the novel'2, does it read as purely physiological? In the preface, Zola declared that he wanted to study 'des t�mperaments et non des caract�res'3. His intention was to write about physical beings that do not think about their actions. While the protagonists are described in physical terms and are linked to animals, it can be said that they do have a certain element of humanity. ...read more.

Middle

Although this is portrayed through physical terms, the idea does come across, showing that the novel is not wholly physiological. The guilt s represented by many factors including the bite mark on Laurent's neck and more significantly the ghost of Camille, which becomes increasingly dominant in the lives of Th�r�se and Laurent. The accusing look of the false-jewellery seller and of the cat adds to this and show that the novel does have guilt entailed within it. The way that the two characters shift the blame to one another also shows a sense of regret. The idea of morality is represented as a message in Th�r�se Raquin as it discourages readers from adultery and shows the consequences of it. The prejudices of Zola's era come forth in the novel. For example, the text is written in such a way that Th�r�se is frowned upon for her sexual nature whereas Laurent's 'need' for sex is thought of as a normal characteristic of a man. This is in itself a judgement, and opposes Zola's intention for a purely physiological narrative. ...read more.

Conclusion

The novel as a whole can be said to be a physiological work where the characters interact physically rather than mentally. On looking further into Th�r�se Raquin, it is possible to see some weaknesses in the physiology, as there are aspects involved that do not conform to the scientific idea. Zola claimed that Th�r�se Raquin was planned to be scientific and declared it a purely physiological piece of literature. Many unscientific elements stand out from the scientific form and so it is possible to deduce that Th�r�se Raquin is not a novel of physiology in its entirety. Guilt, reason, remorse and morals have no place in physiology and there are many examples of these throughout the novel. Even with these aspects of guilt and judgement, the reader is still able to read the novel scientifically, without sympathy for Camille. 1 Zola, Th�r�se Raquin p.60 2 Baguely, David Naturalist fiction p.86 3 Zola, Th�r�se Raquin p.59 4 Baguely, David Naturalist fiction p.85 5 Mallet, Jean-Daniel and Himy, Laure Profil Bac, profil d'un �uvre: Th�r�se Raquin p.42 6 Zola, Th�r�se Raquin p.60 7 Ibid. p.60 8 Mallet, Jean-Daniel and Himy, Laure Profil Bac, profil d'un �uvre: Th�r�se Raquin p.51 9 Zola, Th�r�se Raquin p.53 Louise Maddison 1 ...read more.

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