Ladies’ Paradise

In the Ladies’ Paradise, by Emile Zola, it is obvious that Zola depicts this story with women being materialistic, whereas the men are opportunistic. The women brag about their personal belongings in discreet ways, the men use the women to their advantage and by doing so they put their own personal gain in front of their relationships. Why is it people with “class” lack morals? What do you think this says about the society and time they lived in? Do you think everyone was as egotistical as they were?

2 Replies to “Ladies’ Paradise”

  1. I think you really get at the heart of Zola’s message in The Ladies Paradise which is a critique of society and the consumerism that has started to enter and define the mid-nineteenth century industries. I also agree that a large part of his attention is on the upper middle class, commenting on the materialistic nature of the women like Madam Marty who is “carried away by her mania for spending… simply buying at random from the displays” (Zola, 79). As well as the men like Monsieur Mouret who views people as belonging for which “when he had extracted his fortune and pleasure from them, he would throw them on the rubbish heap for those who could still make a living out of them” (77). However I don’t think that the upper middle class is his only target as he also comments on the workers like Monsieur Hutin who at one point sends Denise to help the customers and secretly delights in the torment that he realizes they will put her through; “his smile was coming back, and in it there was the secret malice of the experienced salesman, who had a shrewd idea of the embarrassment he going to cause both the ladies and the girl” at the same time that Denise is thinking of him as “an unknown friend, brotherly and affectionate” (112). In that way, I think the author’s main argument is the effect that consumerism will have on society as a whole, affecting everyone differently but all negatively.

  2. I think they lack morals because in order to maintain their status at the top of society. Mouret and Desforges both assert themselves by being immoral. Mouret does this by taking advantage of his female customers to make profit, and Desforges maintains her status by causing a barrage of insults on Denise by her coworkers. If they acted with moral character, they may not be at the top anymore.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *