After analyzing the effects that heredity and society have on Zola’s characters, we will focus more specifically on gender, and the illnesses women develop in the Rougon-Macquart series. Indeed, illnesses are presented very differently in women compared to men: sick men are often only slightly “off,” whereas a physiological illness often leads to a woman’s demise. We will look at the ways in which Zola’s writing and his male discourse reinforce gender stereotypes through narratives of gendered diseases by looking specifically at the Adelaïde-Gervaise-Nana line in La Fortune des Rougon, Nana, and L’Assommoir. This project will focus on the ways in which Zola’s feminine pathologies emerge from a combination of gender, heredity and milieu determinations.
Mountain Top, PA