Therese Raquin, by Emile Zola of France, and The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende of Mexico

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Men and their fulfilment of sexual desires play an important role within many novels throughout history. Perhaps the two most blatant examples of this from modern literary works are Therese Raquin, by Emile Zola of France, and The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende of Mexico. The sexual desires of men in Therese Raquin and The House of the Spirits help to convey to the reader the real characters in the stories by taking away the disguises and illusions brought on by the actions of said characters. This thesis will be approached by looking at male characters in each novel.

In The House of the Spirits Esteban will be compared to Laurent in Therese Raquin. We will compare the two men by looking at the various literary devices provided throughout the novels. In Therese Raquin, Zola uses devices such like foreshadowing and the theme of natural versus unnatural. Likewise, Allende uses many of the same literary devices, but also brings in new devices like similes and metaphors. In some ways the corresponding male characters are very different, yet they do share many common attributes.

To fully understand the characters, their need for sexual fulfilment, and their eventual transformation, one must come to know about the context the story is written in, and the factors that surrounded the author at the time of the publication of the novel. Therese Raquin was written in 1868 in France. It is full of dark, morose, and gloomy topics, which continue from page one until the last sentence of the novel. Each character is shown in one light when they first come into play, but later, they become opposite of what and who you think they are.

A man by the name of Emile Zola, of France, wrote the novel and the story’s components are sometimes stereotypically male oriented. The typical male needs sexual fulfilment anytime and all the time. He is in the same family as the ape and so his actions can sometimes resemble those of the ape. He has a killer instinct and will do whatever is absolutely necessary for him, at any time. This is where the sex factor will start to matter in Therese Raquin. Comparatively, The House of the Spirits was writing in the mid twentieth century, in Mexico, and was written by an obviously family-oriented woman named Isabel Allende.

Her novel is peaceful, and serene, with a large family, and lots of women. It also contains archetypal literary elements, like magical realism, as is seen here, “He was in a despicable cage, caked with his own excrement and urine, and had the lost look of a hapless, utterly defenceless prisoner; but the regal carriage of his head and the size of his frame bespoke the legendary giant he would become. ” Emile Zola first presents Laurent to us as a nice, moral, young working man. “… pouring out a flood of recollections and motherly endearments.

Laurent had taken a seat and was smiling blissfully, answering in a clear voice, and looking about him in a quiet and self-assuring manner. ” He remembers Therese when he first sees her again after so many years, “Of course. I recognized her at once. ” As the relationship between Laurent and Therese grows, they become sloppier in hiding their relationship. Perhaps they just don’t care anymore, or perhaps their love and need for passion has clouded their minds, “From the outset the lovers felt their liaison to be inevitable, fatal, quite natural.

At the first meeting they talked in lovers’ language, kissed each other freely and without embarrassment or awkwardness, as though their intimacy had been going on for years. They were quite at ease in their new situation, perfectly tranquil and shameless. ” In order to be able to keep his relationship with Therese, Laurent feels that it is necessary to put up an illusion to the rest of the world. He performs his part with flying colours. Esteban, one of the leading characters in The House of the Spirits is quite similar to Laurent in many ways.

He too has a need for women, especially Clara, and his working girl, Pancha Garcia. The first time that Esteban makes love to Pancha, he executes one of his greatest desires at the time, “Now Esteban took the time to savour her fully and made sure that she felt pleasure too. He explored her slowly, learning by heart the smoking scent of her body and her clothes, which had been washed with ash and pressed with a coal-filled iron… He desired her calmly, initiating her into the most secret and most ancient of sciences.

He was probably happy that night and the few nights after as the two of the cavorted like two puppies in the huge wrought-iron bed that had belonged to the first Trueba and was now somewhat wobbly, although it still withstood the thrusts of love. ” Love makes those involved completely different than they would normally act. Esteban and Laurent are prime examples of this theory. Esteban works in the political circles of his community. It is his hope to one day hold a high political office.

Yet his sexual desires for intimate relations overpower his needs, and make him do things which perhaps he would not have normally done, “Esteban Trueba’s ill humour lifted for a while, and he took a certain interest in his tenants. He went to visit them in their wretched huts… for the first time in his life, he realized that the worst abandonment of Tres Marias was not that of land and animals, but of the people, who had lived unprotected ever since his father had gambled away his mother’s dowry and inheritance. He decided it was time to bring a bit of civilization to this outpost hidden halfway between the mountains and the sea. In contrast to this, Esteban previously said, “‘I’m the patron here now. The party’s over. We’re going to work. Anyone who doesn’t like the idea should clear out immediately. Whoever stays won’t lack for food, but he’ll have to work good and hard. I don’t want any deadbeats or smart-alecks around, you understand? ‘” Laurent too changed his way of thinking from before and after the murder of Camille and fulfilment of sexual desires between him and Therese. When we are first introduced to Laurent he appears to be a nice, moral young man, “… pouring out a flood of recollections and motherly endearments.

Laurent had taken a seat and was smiling blissfully, answering in a clear voice, and looking about him in a quiet and self-assured manner. ” Another example of his commendable behaviours can be seen on page 53 of the novel when Laurent says, “Of course. I recognized her at once. ” In reference to Therese. This is the first time that Laurent recognizes the presence of Therese in the novel, and it is the beginning of an extremely arduous relationship. As we read on we come to realize that since the beginning of Laurent and Therese’s relationship, their disguises are slowly but surely coming down; with their morals it seems. Laurent, coarser-grained by nature, though giving in to his panics and desires, nevertheless was determined to reason out his decision. In order to prove to himself that this marriage was a necessity and that at last he was going to be absolutely happy, and so as to dispel the vague misgivings he was beginning to feel… ” Even after Laurent marries Therese and gets his sexual desires satisfied he keeps his disguise of the ‘nice guy’ up around Madame Raquin and others, “Laurent went on to say, in a voice faltering with emotion, that he loved his poor friend’s widow like a sister, but that marrying her would seem just like sacrilege.

The ex-superintendent stuck to his point, giving a hundred good reasons why he should consent; he even spoke of self-dedication and went so far as to say that duty commanded him to give back a son to Madame Raquin and a husband to Therese… pretending to give in to his emotion and to accept the idea of marriage as an inspiration straight from heaven… “. For the men of both The House of the Spirits and Therese Raquin to fulfil their sexual desires they had to first open up their minds and let go of their desires.

Laurent and Esteban, though written about in different centuries and different cultures, share the common trait of hiding behind something until their needs are met. Both novels parallel what life is like today. People will hide behind a facade, a fallacy if you will, until such time as it is deemed necessary to reveal themselves to their community as the person that they truly are.

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