Power and Manipulation in The Ladies Paradise

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Power and Manipulation in The Ladies Paradise As the world has grown throughout the centuries, females have generally been under the domination of males. This remained culturally entrenched until the late nineteenth century, when women began to appear in public more often and also began to join alongside men in the work force. In the network of employees and employers in the emerging institution of the Parisian department store, men and women depended on each other for survival in the workplace. Such interdependence is a microcosm of the bourgeois French society during that time, which Emile Zola wrote of in The Ladies’ Paradise, the eleventh book of the Rougon-Macquart series detailing middle-class life. According to Professor Brian Nelson, “The department store in The Ladies’ Paradise is a symbol of capitalism, the experience of the city, and the bourgeois family” (Zola x). Through his usage of characterization, Zola uses the development of the Parisian department store as a microcosm of the economical and societal changes taking place in the larger bourgeois culture of France. In Zola’s book as in life, female characters tipped the balance scale of power in their own direction, robbing men of the power they had previously used to manipulate women to their advantage. The department store began as an expansion of the small family- owned draper’s shop but soon grew to be a capitalist power in the French economy. By the twentieth century, in order for to be considered a department store, an establishment needed to be “… organized by merchandise departments with administrative subdivisions corresponding to physical segregations of merchandise” as opposed to specializing in single commodities like the shops lining the streets ... ... middle of paper ... ...ce, Mouret, Denise, and the Mademoiselles who shop at The Ladies’ Paradise could not have formed the powerful entrepreneurial revolution in society without each other. Bibliography: Abelson, Elaine S. When Ladies Go A-Thieving. New York: Oxford UP, 1989. Crossick, Geoffrey, ed. Cathedrals of Consumption. Brookfield: Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 1999. "Emile Zola." Literary Lifelines. Danbury: Grolier Educational, 1998. 202-203. Hower, Ralph M. History of Macy's of New York. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1943. Lancaster, William. The Department Store: A Social History. New York: Leicester UP, 1995. Miller, Michael B. The Bon Marché. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1981. Schelle, Beth. The Ladies' Paradise: Selling Women, Power, and Lace. Sweet Briar College. 13 Nov. 2001 . Zola, Emile. The Ladies' Paradise. Trans. Brian Nelson. New York: Oxford UP, 1995.
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