The Conflict Between Human Enterprise and Nature in Emile Zola’s “The Flood”

Fatima Muhaidat

Abstract


Emile Zola is considered as the father of naturalism, a literary movement that underscores the role of heredity and environment in shaping human experience. This study discusses his story “The Flood” (1880) which embodies man’s struggle against nature and illustrates different features of naturalism. The only surviving member of a family hit by a flood retrospectively narrates the details of the calamity. Heart wrenching memories of the family’s unexpected change of fortunes arouse feelings of sympathy, horror, disappointment and anger. At the beginning, the narrator’s farmhouse appears as a safe haven for the whole family. A state of family bliss speaks of their happiness and satisfaction with their success, an outcome of long years of struggle and hard work. The prosperity the family experiences creates harmonious connections with nature as well as forces beyond it; God is seen as a generous friend, and the nearby river is perceived as a good neighbor. However, a stark shift of perceptive occurs as nature never remains a permanent good relation. Her arcane disrupting forces rather strike mercilessly and unexpectedly putting an end to the family’s story of success. Zola carefully articulates the psychological dimension of the jarring event including the anxiety and horror experienced by most characters as well as the defense mechanisms used to deal with them. Through stylistic features such as documentary style, literary contrasts and imagery, readers ruefully realize the high price paid by man as a result of this encounter.


Keywords


French literature; Naturalism; Emile Zola; “The Flood”; Natural disaster; Human enterprise; Defense mechanisms

Full Text:

PDF

References


Abrams, M., H., & Harpham, G., G. (2008). A glossary of literary terms (9th ed.). USA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

ANXIETY SYMPTOMS: Anxiety, Cold Sensations and Chilliness. (2009-2017). Calm Clinic. Retrieved 2017, December 1 from http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/symptoms/cold-sensations-chilliness

Arthur, V. (2000). Introduction. The Literature Network. Retrieved 2017, December 20 from http://www.online-literature.com/emile-zola/the-flood/

Clark, K. J. (2016). Naturalism and its discontents. In K. J. Clark (Ed.), The blackwell companion to naturalism (pp.1-15). UK: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Codsi, R. (2015). “The return of the repressed”: Uncovering family secrets in Zola’s fiction. An interpretation of selected novels (Doctoral thesis). Egham, United Kingdom: Royal Holloway University of London.

Cramer, P. (2006). Protecting the self: Defense mechanisms in action. New York: The Guilford Press.

Emotions. (2017). Human diseases and conditions. Retrieved 2017, October 27 from http://www.humanillnesses.com/Behavioral-Health-Br-Fe/Emotions.html

Hallucination. (2005). The new dictionary of cultural literacy (3rd ed.). Houghton Mifflin Company.

Holman, C., H., & Harmon, W. (1980). A handbook to literature (4th ed.). Indiana: Bobbs-Merrill Educational Publishing.

Howells, W. D. (2000). Emile Zola. The Literature Network. Retrieved 2017, October 20 from http://www.online-literature.com/william-dean-howells/4112/

Marriott, L. J. (2002). Literary naturalism 1865-1940: Its history, influences and legacy (Ph. D. dissertation). The University of Leicester, University College Northampton.

Mayer, J. D. (2002). Foreword. In L. F. Barrette, P. Salovey, & J. D. Mayer (Eds.), The wisdom in feeling: Psychological processes in emotional intelligence (pp.x-xvi). New York: The Guilford Press.

Morales, A. F. (2014). American naturalism: Main naturalist elements in Jack London’s arctic tales. (University dissertation). Universidad de La Rioja, Servicio de Publicaciones. Retrieved 2017, September 10 from https://biblioteca.unirioja.es/tfe_e/TFE000777.pdf

Newlin, K. (2012). Introduction: The naturalistic imagination and the aesthetics of excess. In K. Newlin (Ed.), Oxford handbooks online (pp.1-17). Retrieved 2017, October 30 from http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195368932.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780195368932-e-0?print=pdf. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195368932.013.0000

Norris, F. (1964/2004). Zola as a romantic writer. In H. Bloom (Ed.), American naturalism (pp.21-23). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers.

Pizer, D. (1999). Introduction. In D. Pizer (Ed.), The Cambridge companion to American realism and naturalism: Howells to London (pp.1-12). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rahv, P. (1949/2004). Notes on the decline of naturalism. In H. Bloom (Ed.), American naturalism (pp.39-48). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers.

Sheen, A. F. J. (2015). Bread and wine. The catholic thing. Retrieved 2017, November 16 from https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2015/04/02/bread-and-wine/

Stromberg, R., N. (1968). Introduction. In R. N. Stromberg (Ed.), Realism, naturalism and symbolism: Modes of thought and expression in Europe, 1848-1914 (pp.ix-xxxvi). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Turri, J. (2017). Exceptionalist naturalism: Human agency and the causal order [Abstract]. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1-16.

Zola, E. (2000). The flood. Retrieved 2017 September 1 from http://www.online-literature.com/emile-zola/the-flood/




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/10073

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c) 2018 Fatima Muhammad Muhaidat

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Share us to:   


Reminder

How to do online submission to another Journal?

If you have already registered in Journal A, then how can you submit another article to Journal B? It takes two steps to make it happen:

1. Register yourself in Journal B as an Author

Find the journal you want to submit to in CATEGORIES, click on “VIEW JOURNAL”, “Online Submissions”, “GO TO LOGIN” and “Edit My Profile”. Check “Author” on the “Edit Profile” page, then “Save”.

2. Submission

Go to “User Home”, and click on “Author” under the name of Journal B. You may start a New Submission by clicking on “CLICK HERE”.


We only use three mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases: caooc@hotmail.com; sll@cscanada.net; sll@cscanada.org

 Articles published in Studies in Literature and Language are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY).

 STUDIES IN LITERATURE AND LANGUAGE Editorial Office

Address: 9375 Rue de Roissy Brossard, Québec, J4X 3A1, Canada 
Telephone: 1-514-558 6138 
Website: Http://www.cscanada.net; Http://www.cscanada.org 
E-mailoffice@cscanada.net; office@cscanada.org; caooc@hotmail.com

Copyright © 2010 Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture