Zola’s Use of Setting in Therese Raquin

download print

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 386 |

Page: 1|

2 min read

Published: Jul 27, 2018

Words: 386|Page: 1|2 min read

Published: Jul 27, 2018

Emile Zola uses the setting within the novel Therese Raquin in order to deepen the meaning in the text, specifically focusing on the reoccurring imprisonment versus freedom theme. Interestingly, Zola often uses his freedom with choice of setting to display Therese’s imprisonment within her life. 

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

Zola starts the novel with the description of the Passage du Pont-Neuf in order to emphasize Therese’s imprisonment. The sky is described as “black and coarsely rendered, as if covered with leprous sores and zigzagged with scars” (7), negative connotations that symbolizes Therese’s unhappy life, marked by her oppressive childhood and arranged marriage.The description of the sky as "covered with leprous sores and zigzagged with scars” is an allusion to the decay of Therese’s spirit and passion, and the emphasis on the sky's darkness suggests Therese's inability to escape her situation. The light that does appear is “only a pale glow [which] falls on the pavement below in dim, flickering pools which sometimes disappear almost completely” (8), suggesting again the gloom that overwhelms any life or passion for Therese, who cannot live freely in her native Algeria. Just as the light is pale and flickering, Therese’s liveliness is repressed. Zola goes on to describe the Passage du Pont-Neuf as “like some underground gallery dimly lit by three funeral lamps,” another allusion to Therese's virtual imprisonment.

Zola continues to portray Therese's imprisonment as he describes the haberdashery within the Passage du Pont-Neuf: as she “walked into the shop which was to be her home from now on, she felt as if she were dropping into the clinging earth of a grave” and as she looks over the rooms "the loneliness and dilapidation of this bare, unfurnished apartment was terrifying” (19). Entrapment in a grave, a seeming prison of solitude - the setting conveys and emphasizes Therese's feelings about her life and illustrate her pitiful situation: “Living amidst the damp and gloom, in an oppressive, dismal silence, [she] saw life stretching out pointlessly ahead of her” (21). By describing Therese's physical setting as oppressive, he is alluding to her whole life as an oppressed woman.

Get a custom paper now from our expert writers.

These two examples demonstrate Zola's effective use of description and setting to emphasize the imprisonment of his unfortunate protagonist, a tactic he uses successfully throughout the novel.

Image of Dr. Charlotte Jacobson
This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Zola’s Use of Setting in Therese Raquin. (2018, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
“Zola’s Use of Setting in Therese Raquin.” GradesFixer, 14 May 2018,
Zola’s Use of Setting in Therese Raquin. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 May 2024].
Zola’s Use of Setting in Therese Raquin [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 May 14 [cited 2024 May 26]. Available from:
Keep in mind: This sample was shared by another student.
  • 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help
  • Custom essay delivered in as few as 3 hours
Write my essay

Still can’t find what you need?

Browse our vast selection of original essay samples, each expertly formatted and styled


Where do you want us to send this sample?

    By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.


    Be careful. This essay is not unique

    This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

    Download this Sample

    Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts


    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.



    Please check your inbox.

    We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!


    Get Your
    Personalized Essay in 3 Hours or Less!

    We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!
    • Instructions Followed To The Letter
    • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
    • Unique And Plagiarism Free
    Order your paper now