The Industrial Revolution In Zola's Germinal

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A spectacular and sweeping revolution that illuminated Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Industrial Revolution existed as a distinguishing event that changed the course of Europe for centuries to come. The Industrial Revolution is summed up as the period in Europe in which the growth of technological innovation sparked improvements in the European way of production. Large factories opened to mass-produce textiles, and the new steam engine allowed mines to operate more efficiently. The Industrial Revolution, moreover, completely transformed the European way of life. Despite the revolution’s many successes, its core reveals a darker. The Industrial Revolution primarily led to a division between the middle-class, also known …show more content…

It was simple for capitalists to cut costs in terms of labor because workers depended on holding a job to survive. As a result, working conditions worsened, and wages decreased substantially. In Zola’s Germinal, the working-class Maheu family faced horrible working conditions in the coal mine. The conditions are described using these gruesome terms: “At the bottom of the shaft, it had been very cold, and in the haulage roadway—through which all the air in the mine passed—an icy wind blew, whipped to a storm by the narrowness of the space between the walls. Then, as they penetrated deeper into the other roads, which each received only a meager ration of air, the wind dropped and the temperatures rose…” These conditions were typical of a worker during this time period, as laws did not exist at the time to outlaw child labor, long work days, or toxic air conditions. In addition, wages also declined due to labor cuts, and this is reiterated in the “Communist Manifesto:” “In proportion, therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage decreases.” Marx detects the capitalists’ ploy and bluntly states that poor working conditions and wages are related. When labor cuts occurred, Marx noticed, conditions became worse and wages decrease, too. Thus, it was apparent that while the profits for the owners grew, the well-being of the workers declined rapidly, further dividing the two …show more content…

Zola’s Germinal paints a vivid picture of the poor living conditions faced by the Maheus: “Despite the bitter cold outside, the air was heavy with the warmth of the living, that stuffy heat to be found in even the best-kept bedrooms, with its reek of the human herd.” This description paints a picture of a cramped, compact home designed to house a large working family. The “reek of human herd” signifies that the home was unsanitary and not well-furnished. The workers had little to eat, and many faced the threat of death daily. Alzire’s death in Germinal serves as an example: “‘There. She’s gone now...The damned child’s died of starvation. And she’s not the only one either. I’ve just seen another down the street…’” When the doctor announces Alzire’s death, also mentioning she was not the only one, the reader gathers that death in the working-class villages was prevalent. All of these aspects of the living conditions faced by the working-class further strengthens the class divide. Fernando Garrido’s views on communism in Spain clarifies how these divulging lifestyles resulted from the Industrial Revolution: “What is said...about property: however sacred this right may be, when only a small number of privileged people can use it - and generally to the detriment of the greatest number who own nothing - is it not normal for the greatest number to view it as an enemy of their

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