By James L. Roberts
Zola's heroine Nana is a prostitute in Napoleon III's France for whom wealthy males hand over their fortunes, and bad males their lives, but Nana squanders fortunes and her lifestyles results in squalor.This concise complement to Emile Zola's Nana is helping scholars comprehend the general constitution of the paintings, activities and motivations of the characters, and the social and cultural views of the writer.
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Additional info for CliffsNotes on Zola's Nana
Commentary Nana's basic sexuality is again emphasized by the opening sentence of this chapter, which describes Nana in bed with Count Muffat. Nana suddenly expresses her fear of God and her fear of death, which begins to prepare the reader for her actual death in the final chapter. Nana's fear that "people are ugly when they're dead" also prepares us for the awesome ugliness of Nana's own death. com his previous religious training. When he receives the letter which his wife had written to her lover, he realizes the depth of his own degradation.
Even after the race, Nana the courtesan is toasted and cheered. Even Nana begins to associate herself with the nag and feels that the crowd is indeed cheering her. Perhaps nowhere in Zola's many novels does he capture so completely the spirit of an age and the mass excitement engendered by dualistic motives. CHAPTER 12 Summary After three days of sulking, Count Muffat returns to Nana and finds her troubled about religious matters. She tells him openly that she is afraid to die because she knows what happens to "unmarried women who had anything to do with men" and also because dead people are so ugly.
This Nana possesses no particularly outstanding traits. She has no wit, no talent, and no intellect. At times, she can respond spontaneously, as when she tries briefly to be true to Georges Hugon, or she can have a perverse sense of loyalty, as when she adheres to Fontan in spite of his brutality. But in general, she is a simple girl from the gutters of Paris who, by accident, possesses the most magnificent and lustful body of the age. It is as the second Nana that she becomes famous. Her physical body is such that it excites and arouses the most basic and elemental lustful drives in the male.