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L’Assommoir by Émile Zola (Book Analysis)

Detailed Summary, Analysis and Reading Guide
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Unlock the more straightforward side of L’Assommoir with this concise and insightful summary and analysis!

This engaging summary presents an analysis of
L’Assommoir by Émile Zola, which brutally depicts the destructive effects of poverty and alcoholism in 19th-century Paris. The novel’s main character, Gervaise Macquart, is determined to build a happy life for herself and her family in spite of her humble origins, but as the story progresses she is led astray and follows in her husband’s footsteps to become an alcoholic. The novel initially shocked readers because of its focus on the working classes and unflinching portrayal of violence and alcohol abuse, but now it is one of Zola’s most widely read books. It forms part of
Les Rougon-Macquart, an ambitious cycle of 20 novels which tells the story of one extended family under the Second French Empire. Émile Zola was the leading figure of the literary school of naturalism, as well as an influential social thinker, and is now regarded as one of France’s greatest novelists.

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This in-depth and informative reading guide brings you:

• A complete plot summary

• Character studies

• Key themes and symbols

• Questions for further reflection

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