The Act of Revolting: Germinal by Emile Zola Essay

The Act of Revolting: Germinal by Emile Zola Essay

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Germinal, written by Emile Zola is about a man, Etienne, who receives a mining job at Le Voreux, a coal mine. While working, Etienne discovers the harsh working conditions, and the malnourishment men and women have. As the status of these workers continues to deplete, Etienne is motivated to start a revolt in hope of gaining better working conditions and wages so he and the other workers can live proper lives.
I think Zola wrote this novel to promote the act of revolting, in necessary conditions. Throughout the novel, there are various scenes which depict the hard lives of people living under the harsh conditions. “Choked by a violent cough, he spat, and his spittle left a black stain on the ground.” The reason this man, Bonnemort, was coughing and spitting up black phlegm was because he had been working down in the coal mine for such a long time, since he was eight years old. “They ceased to notice the water streaming down and causing their limbs to swell, or the cramps brought on by being stuck in awkward positions. As the day wore on, the atmosphere became even more poisonous and the air grew hotter and hotter.” These are the things workers had to put up with every time they work. The miners are working in rough conditions and being paid just enough money to keep them alive, but still suffering. Some even thought the workers would be better off dead because at least they would not have to suffer from starvation and body pains. These harsh conditions lead one man, Etienne, to start a revolution because he believed these people were not being treated right. The examples provided are reasonable causes to start a revolution. Although the revolt he started may not have played out the way he intended to, it makes me wonder what coul...


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...ion was the chance for change. The workers went along, but in the end, they let their anger for the Company get the best of them. Instead of using the power of word, they were greedy and violent. The workers had blown their chance for reformed working conditions. And with that, I sympathize with the miners. They then had to go back to the old way of the iron law, and harsh living conditions, all because they couldn’t control their emotions. “Today the same slave labour was beginning all over again, as dangerous and as badly paid as every. Just over there, seven hundred metres under the ground, he could almost hear the steady, ceaseless clunk of picks as his black comrades, the very comrades he had seen going down that morning, dug away at the coal in silent fury.”


Works Cited

Emile Zola, Germinal
Emile Zola, Germinal. Trans., Roger Pearson (New York: Knopf, 2004)

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