Political Overtones in Emile Zola's 'Germinal'

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The Politics of Germinal It is fairly apparent that a number of political overtones dominate Emile Zola's novel Germinal, which is the 13th book of nonfiction within the writer's Les Rougon-Macquart, a 20-volume series of novels. The author published this work of literature in 1885, less than 50 years after Marx and Engels unveiled the Communist Manifesto which was still plenty of time for a number of the ideologies propagated in this manuscript to take hold of popular culture and political theorists alike. In fact, one could successfully make a claim that the central theme of Germinal actually revolves around the conceptions of class antagonism that is an inherent part of an exploitative, bourgeois society such as that depicted in the French coal mining town in 1860, the setting for Germinal. A thorough analysis of this literary work illustrates that there are several instances of class antagonism, which are central to the plot of this book and provide its primary theme. In this particular book of Zola's the townspeople of Montsou are wantonly exploited for their labor by the ruling class that owns the mine that the town was built around. By forcing these 'proletariats' to consume their lives in the working of painfully long hours in unsanitary, underground conditions for insufficient pay, the ruling class makes it virtually impossible for the townspeople to earn a living, feed a family, or to go on to any other station in life. The following quotation, in which Vincent

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