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Germinal

In a period heavily influenced by Karl Marx and the quest for realistic portrayals of life in literature, Emile Zola wrote Germinal. This book realistically depicts the lives of the miners, as well as the beliefs that they turn to. The miners, following in Etienne’s footsteps, condemn capitalism and the bourgeois. Zola condemns capitalism and shows its power of corruption among the bourgeois, the miners, and in Etienne. It is safe to say that the bourgeois and the miners did not collaborate. The bourgeois lived an easy life supported by capitalism: “Since 1789 the bourgeois had been living on the fat of the land, and so greedily that they didn’t leave … even the plates to lick” (Zola 45). The image of this carnivore eating up all of the food is capitalism in the extreme. No longer are the bourgeois satisfied with making a decent income; they have become animals with large appetites, willing to kill anything for the extra profit. Although the miners despise the bourgeois for the capitalistic animalism, they too are capitalists, when the mine decides to lay off a few of the miners, it auctions off the available work. “It’s come to this now, that workers have to fight their fellow workers” (Zola 148). In the choice of work and eating or do not and die, the miners become desperate to keep their jobs. They become like animals, fighting over scraps of food that zookeepers throw in to them. They do not like this competition because it reduces their wages significantly – and they had been on a subsistence-level beforehand. So when Etienne offers the miners a view of socialism, they jump on it. This socialist, however, is plagued by capitalism more than anybody realizes. After having had a taste of leadership, Etienne was accused of trying to take control: “The two men had now given up shouting at each other and were coldly bitter and spiteful in their open rivalry̶...

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