What Is The Theme Of The Morgue Scene

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In Thérèse Raquin, Émile Zola uses specific scenes in order to convey and communicate explicit concepts from which the reader can extrapolate key themes in the novel, and the Morgue scene of Chapter XIII is an excellent example of this. Such scenes also offer a comprehensive depiction of the times and the Morgue scene gives us a slice of Parisian life during the 19th century. Across the span of this chapter, Zola’s unflinching depiction of the morgue, the bodies lying on the slabs, and most importantly, his meticulous illustration of those who visit the morgue for titillation or other reasons, impose profound connotations of Parisian society in that period. One of the reasons for such a realistically lifelike extract was Zola’s deliberate effort…show more content…
Zola did not try to pursue an objective tone when portraying the crudeness of human nature, nor did he shy away from pointing out the depravities of human beings, thus shocking readers of the time. When it is known that Camille has drowned, the staff at his work place, the Orleans Railway “were quite proud that one of their fellow workers had been drowned” as the event provided them as a source of entertainment, novelty and shock value, while elevating their status, no matter how momentarily, to a dramatically ominous level. Zola’s narrative style is omniscient, foreshadowing the changes and developments of the protagonists later on in the novel. Zola uses free indirect discourse as he goes into the minds of the characters, revealing their thoughts and feelings in order to portray the reactions encountered in the…show more content…
Zola regarded Manet as one of the “masters of the future” and defended him against harsh critics, as he strongly believed in the way Manet expressed himself in his paintings. Manet’s “Olympia”, in particular, generated intense scandal due to its sexual connotations and many disapproved of the painting. However, Manet’s talent motivated Zola to include crude sexuality and painterly technique in his writing. In truth, the theme of sexuality permeates the entire novel, even in the Morgue scene; Zola’s portrayal of the coarse primitiveness of human nature is again evident when the “gangs of kids” come in “stopping only by women’s bodies” to “stare impudently at the naked breasts”. This is a perversely disturbing spectacle for youngsters to see, but Zola approaches it matter-of-factly, commenting without irony that “It is in the Morgue that young street urchins have their first mistress”. This graphic image of the exposed breasts creates an abhorrent atmosphere for the reader, signifying an objectification of women during that time as this piece of writing can be seen as patriarchal novel. Zola furthers this impression by describing the Morgue as “a show that anyone can afford,
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