Zola wrote Germinal in the time of the French industrial period and revolution. How does this compare to the English industrial period and revolution during the same time?
This is a really perceptive question that forces us to put the story into its historical context. You are right, Germinal is set during the time of French industrialization and the Industrial Revolution. While Germinal focuses on the conditions of workers in the mines of France, the English Industrial Revolution often focuses on the conditions of the workers in factories and workhouses.
In Germinal, the living conditions and the working conditions in Montsou are deplorable especially in regard to the actual mine called the Voreux (which literally means "voracious"). This is an apt title as the mine devours all who work there. It swallows humans whole and spits them out devoid of all light and joy and health. Note the similarity to the tone of the entire entity of Montsou:
On a pitch black, starless night, a solitary man...
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