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How Is Animal Imagery Used In "Therese Raquin" And "If This Is A Man"?

2007 words - 9 pages

This essay will explore the topic that links both "Therese Raquin" and "If This Is a Man", animal imagery. Although at a first glance both books are different as they cover different time periods, events and the writing style of the authors are different they both use animal imagery throughout their novels. Zola's "Therese Raquin" is the tale of a contagious madness fed by the overwhelming power of sexual urges. Zola confessed to be intrigued by the pathology of a relationship between a man of brute force and a highly-strung woman. It is written in a plain and objective style. Zola describes almost everything in detail and places emphasises the animal side of human beings.Zola is famous for ...view middle of the document...

Her personality is very secretive, Zola show us she keeps her animal instincts inside, "calm and motionless" , this quotation when compared with, "a mass of energy and a passion dormant within her torpid frame" we can see the energy she hides. Her strength is shown by using animal imagery such as, "feline suppleness". She has been sacrificed for her Aunt and Camille, "newly dug grave" she is described like a caged animal.Camille is shown as, "small, puny and listless in manner" . Zola is almost mocking human nature; the most interesting part of Therese is her animal side. Zola uses irony to convey how little difference there is between humans and animals as the bears are so described similarly to Camille.He would stay there for half an hour, leaning over the pit and watchingThe bears as they ambled heavily around. It amused him to see how these big creatures walked. He stared at them, with his jaw hanging, wide-eyed, like an idiot enjoying the sight of them as they moved. Animal imagery is used to show the differences in Therese and Camille.Throughout the novel Mme Raquin's cat helps us judge the temperament of the characters by the way they act toward it. In the preface Zola says the cat is meant to be Mme Raquin's dead husband. The cat at the beginning of the novel represents Therese's repressed desires and sexuality, " She used to stay slumped in her chair, looking at François as he lay in her arms, so as not to see these paper dolls grimacing around her", Zola enforces Therese's dislike of the others (at the Thursday meeting) by portraying them as being fake, by describing them as paper dolls it shows how they are not showing their real feelings they are merely superficial. Francois represents feelings that cannot be expressed, such as desires, as it is not considered "civilised". By chapter 21 Francois represents their (Therese and Laurent's) repressed fears and horrors. Therese's protection of the cat shows that Therese believes Camille has entered the cat's body. This quotation shows how fear can change a person's temperament, as in Therese, as she is more sympathetic to the cat's plight than Camille's."He was about to give Francois a kick when Therese cried out; don't you hurt him! Her cry affected him in a strange was. An absurd idea came to his head. Camille has entered the cat's body, he thought, I shall have to kill the brute......it looks like a human being"We can see from this passage that Laurent believes that the only way to deal with his problem is to get rid of it. This shows how the rules of society never feature in any of Laurent's decisions; society is something that separates us from animals. Zola is showing that society is not what it appears to be. Society and civilisation are supposedly what separates humans from animals, "human animals" act differently in the wild then in the city, " . Earlier in the novel Therese is described with feline characteristics, we can then read this passage as if Therese is the cat. By...

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