Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Passage du Pont-Neuf

Passage du Pont-Neuf (pah-SAHJ dyu POHN-newf). Covered arcade in Paris; a flagstone-floored alley that runs between two streets lined with small shops. The passage is vividly described in the opening lines of the novel. Its strongest characteristic is its darkness and grime, setting the mood of the drama. It exudes a damp odor, and the sun rarely penetrates the grimy glass of its roofing. Its shops are dusty and dim; passersby are limited to those taking a short cut as they walk rapidly on to their true destination. During the day, the shops are dark caves; at night, the arcade takes on a shadowy, sinister look.

Haberdashery shop

Haberdashery shop. Dry goods store in the dismal Passage du Pont-Neuf belonging to Thérèse Raquin. The shop sells odds and ends of clothing, such as socks, stockings, muslin collars and caps, as well as buttons, knitting needles, spools of thread, and balls of yarn. All its stock is faded and yellowed, decaying in the dust and damp within the dim shop. Here, Thérèse Raquin spends her days, in the shadows behind the counter. From the shop, a spiral staircase leads to the upstairs rooms.


Bedroom. Room above the shop that is entered from the dining room at the top of the spiral staircase; it has a second door opening onto an exterior staircase that leads outside to the passage. This is the door which Thérèse’s lover, Laurent, uses throughout their affair. The bedroom itself is the only element of the setting that changes as the novel progresses. As the novel opens, the room is a cold place to which Thérèse and her sickly, weak...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Grant, Elliott M. Émile Zola. New York: Twayne, 1966. A solidly researched account of Zola’s life and works, including excellent pages on Thérèse Raquin.

Hemmings, F. W. J. Émile Zola. 2d ed. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1966. The best critical study of Zola’s literary career. The section devoted to Thérèse Raquin is especially insightful.

Lapp, J. C. Zola Before the “Rougon-Macquart.” Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1964. Offers the most detailed study of Thérèse Raquin, from the perspective of its place in the early development of Zola’s literary career, before he became famous.

Walker, Phillip. Zola. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985. Well-written general study of Zola’s writings, especially perceptive about Zola’s use of symbols and myths.

Wilson, Angus. Émile Zola: An Introductory Study of His Novels. Rev. ed. London: Secker and Warburg, 1965. Readable analytical study, written by a practicing novelist.