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Thérèse Raquin
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2016/17 Group Reads - Archives > Thérèse Raquin - Ch 19-26

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message 1: by Nicola (last edited May 21, 2017 09:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nicola | 311 comments Welcome to the Marriage From Hell!

Therese and Laurant have succeeded in their machinations and everyone has urged them to get married! I just loved the little comedy Laurent and Therese put on for the benefit of their 'friends' and family.

They are urged by all and sundry to marry each other, which they accept as a duty and fairly reluctantly do (so sweet of them!).

So, are they happy? (Spoiler Alert: NOOOOO!!!!)

1. Did anyone have a purely unselfish reason for wanting this wedding? Is anyone in this book concerned for anyone but themselves?

2. Laurent seems to be surpassing himself even to the extent that Therese is shocked The impudence of her sweetheart overwhelmed her. She observed him with a senseless look Do you think that Therese is experiencing true remorse for her actions (or non actions)?

The sort of remorse Laurent experienced wsa purely physical. His body, irritated nerves and trembling frame alone were afraid of the drowned man. His conscience was for nothing in his terror. He did not feel the least regret at having killed Camille. When he was calm, when the spectre did not happen to be there, he would have committed the murder over again, had he thought his interests absolutely required it.

3. What do you think of the character of Laurent now? He seems such a mixture of lusts, fears, cowardice, violence, lack of compassion and laziness - does he have any redeeming qualities at all?

On the day of the wedding there seems to be now an open acknowledgement that the murder of Camille has killed off their passion for each other. It seems to take an almost physical form - the shape of his corpse lying in the bed with them. The wedding, although symbolically tying them together has really done nohting. The real binding of the two was the murder and the wedding night, rather than being the start of their life seems almost to confirm its death.

And also: The scar is back! The bleeding of the scar provides a rather gruesome reminder of the murder.

In a bit of ironic justice the killing of Camille seems to have shaken something lose inside of Laurent and now he can really sketch. But only pictures which resemble the dead man! Hahahah - couldn't happen to a nice bloke I feel ;-)

The last chapter of this section was quite a shock. I have to say that I felt pretty bad for Madame Raquin. Like Therese, she is now 'buried alive inside of herself' I know that she has been selfish but of all the people in the book I feel that she had the best heart. And now, to be trapped inside her body and unable to resist being 'embraced' by Laurent. How awful! Does anybody else see any similaries between her lack of resistence to Laurent paralleling Therese's lack of resistence to Camille? Or is that just me?


Sarah | 29 comments Great questions, all. This is just unrelentingly gruesome. An absolute horror story in every aspect. I thought it couldn't get any worse until that last part with Mdm Raquin. I've downloaded The Tell Tale Heart but I think I'll need a palete cleanser first :-) I find the use of the word 'comedy' interesting (appearing several times) A fine way to describe this type of game playing. Is this particularly Zola? French? (that might be a dumb question) I feel a lot of hate in this novel. It's quite oppressive.


Nicola | 311 comments SarahHannah wrote: "Great questions, all. This is just unrelentingly gruesome. An absolute horror story in every aspect. I thought it couldn't get any worse until that last part with Mdm Raquin. "

Yes, I found the murder rather visceral and descriptions of the water bloaded corpse and now we have the hauntings. I'm trying to imagine an English writer of the period dealing in the same way with such topics and I'm just coming up blank. Can you think of one?

Is this particularly Zola? French? (that might be a dumb question) I feel a lot of hate in this novel. It's quite oppressive.

I don't think it's a dumb question but if it is then I'm probably about to give a dumb answer! I think it might be both. France was a country of revolutions, often dramatic and extremely bloody. England by constrast was fairly peaceful - there might be the odd bid of civil unrest but there hasn't been any civil wars since way back when. Perhaps this violence has entered the national pysche and is being expressed through the writers? They say that you can either cry or laugh when things are bad - Zola seems to revel in the black comedy here. I have to confess I do appreciate the humour - I've always really liked black comedy :-)


Sarah | 29 comments Nicola wrote: " I'm trying to imagine an English writer of the period dealing in the same way with such topics and I'm just coming up blank. Can you think of one?. "

The only one, and there are certainly many differences, but the only one I can think of that comes even close is Emily Bronte in "Wuthering Heights". I thought I appreciated black humour too, but I just didn't get it here. I think it's brilliant, don't get me wrong. It's blown me away. But I have to say I was very happy to scarper off to Barchester for a cup of tea with the Miss Prettymans :-)


Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 270 comments Wow! Who would foresee that their marriage would not be a happy one? Maybe to plan a murder to get free or to get rich is not as simple as it seems in a first moment.

Seriously, this story gets better at each chapter.


message 6: by Robin P, Moderator (last edited May 23, 2017 08:47PM) (new)

Robin P | 2205 comments Mod
This could certainly be made as a horror movie with all kinds of special effects showing the creepy things Laurent and Therese see at night, and the way all his paintings which at first seem different, all morph into Camille.

I was disappointed that Mme Raquin's discovery of the truth was kind of glossed over quickly. That is, her reaction is described but it just says that she heard what Laurent said while seeing a vision. I also thought there could be a different way the story would go with Laurent getting angry with his mother-in-law and deliberately telling her the truth to make her suffer.

There is a lot of passivity and helplessness. Besides Mme Raquin's stroke, both Laurent and Therese feel trapped. They can't move forward from the crime or escape their guilt - or each other. (reminds me of Sartre's quote "Hell is other people"). At the same time, their idiotic "friends" keep coming over and pretending everything is the same as always.

Zola seems to want to be scientific in describing the effects of the crime on the mental, physical and emotional states of the characters.


message 7: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - added it

Rosemarie | 2894 comments Mod
A French film version of this book was made in 1953, starring Simone Signoret. The French version is called Therese Raquin, the English title is The Adulteress.
I have not seen it; I found out about it on Google.


Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 270 comments Robin wrote: "Besides Mme Raquin's stroke"

My brazilian edition states paralysis, and by the symptoms would really be paralysis, the illness was slowly progressing till the total paralysis. Or my edition translated it wrongly?


message 9: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2205 comments Mod
You could be right, it could be some other degenerative condition.


Sarah | 29 comments I just assumed it was a stroke thinking of the paralysis as a symptom. Anyhow the result is the same -- the horror of a 'locked-in' syndrome amidst all that toxic hate and fear. Chilling stuff!


Nicola | 311 comments SarahHannah wrote: "Nicola wrote: " I'm trying to imagine an English writer of the period dealing in the same way with such topics and I'm just coming up blank. Can you think of one?. "

The only one, and there are ce..."


It has slight elements of it but even with the haunting atsmosphere there just isn't the same claustraphobic horror I don't think.

I certainly understand your desire for tea and cakes with the civilised English Gentry!


Nicola | 311 comments Rafael wrote: "Wow! Who would foresee that their marriage would not be a happy one? Maybe to plan a murder to get free or to get rich is not as simple as it seems in a first moment.

Seriously, this story gets be..."


I know right! What a shock! I personally was expecting it to be bread and roses from there on out :-)


Nicola | 311 comments Robin wrote: "This could certainly be made as a horror movie with all kinds of special effects showing the creepy things Laurent and Therese see at night, and the way all his paintings which at first seem differ..."

Great comments Robin. There might be more Madame Raquin yet so don't be too dissappointed. I'm currently imagining a life of real horror trapped inside her mind and being unable to do anything about Laurent laughing over her helplessness. Therese, to do her justice, seems pretty appalled at the grief this revalation has caused her aunt.

"Hell is other people" - that is a good quote for Zola - he doesn't think that there needs to be supernatural agency to ruin peoples lives, we are quite capable of managing it all on our own... His delving into the dark pits of the human mind is disturbing but fascinating.


Nicola | 311 comments Rafael wrote: "Robin wrote: "Besides Mme Raquin's stroke"

My brazilian edition states paralysis, and by the symptoms would really be paralysis, the illness was slowly progressing till the total paralysis. Or my ..."


I thought it was a stroke going on the symptoms described, but my edition refered to it as a paralysis as well.


Sarah | 29 comments Rosemarie wrote: "A French film version of this book was made in 1953, starring Simone Signoret. The French version is called Therese Raquin, the English title is The Adulteress.
I have not seen it; I found out abou..."

I had a google (?! :-) and saw that it was adapted as a play for Broadway (Keira Knightley's debut) but by all accounts it was a lukewarm affair. I'll look out for the French film!


Sarah | 29 comments Nicola wrote: "It has slight elements of it but even with the haunting atsmosphere there just isn't the same claustraphobic horror I don't think.
Yes, I absolutely agree -- it was stretching it a bit. I love your comment about "Hell is other people" Really perfect for Zola!


Nicola | 311 comments SarahHannah wrote: "I just assumed it was a stroke thinking of the paralysis as a symptom. Anyhow the result is the same -- the horror of a 'locked-in' syndrome amidst all that toxic hate and fear. Chilling stuff!"

It's a master stroke! 😊


Sarah | 29 comments Nicola wrote "It's a master stroke! "

Haha excellent! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtxbM...


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