Germinal

Topics: Marxism, Karl Marx, Capitalism Pages: 6 (1274 words) Published: December 6, 2014

Emile Zola, a naturalist French writer of the mid nineteenth century, and Carl Marx, who at the time was a German philosopher; shared many similar ideas concerning the concept of revolution. Marx demonstrates his thinking’s through a series of writings, while Zola displays his ideas through Germinal, a novel about the revolt of the working class against the mine they work for and its owners. Although the two revolutionaries convey their thoughts through different forms of writing, they are both able to do so in a convincing and effective manner. Zola demonstrates the desperate need for compassion by graphically showing us the extent to which oppression, exercised by the bourgeoisie, can affect the individuals in the working-class as well as their community, as a whole. Marx pushes for extremely radical ideas, which would completely revolutionize the social, political, and economical aspects of a nation. Marx believes that genuine change can only be achieved through a revolution. Zola disagrees; he believes that a revolution can be avoided if compassion becomes a universal practice. Both revolution and compassion are relevant to the concepts of human socialization, class division, and revolution. Marx and Zola share similar ideas about human socialization. Both of them agree that the causes of the lack of human socialization are dehumanization and alienation. In Germinal, Zola demonstrates this through the lack of compassion and humanity in the relationships of the workers. For example, the lack of humanity becomes apparent when we witness the relationship the workers have towards their labor. Although the condition of the mine is very hazardous, the workers continue to labor relentlessly. “They were now tapping away harder than ever in their single-minded determination to fill a decent number of tubs. They became oblivious to all else as they gave themselves up to this furious pursuit of a reward so dearly won”1

This demonstrates the alienation of the worker from his labor and the dehumanization of the worker because he becomes enslaved by his labor. Marx says, “The more the worker by his labour appropriates the external, world, sensuous nature, the more he deprives himself of means of life”.2 This means that the amount of time a worker spends on his labor is inversely related to his humanity. In other words, as the worker labors longer, he loses more of his humanity. Furthermore, the only thing that the workers want from their job is the “reward so dearly won”, not the product of their labor or the labor itself. The reward in this scenario is money. Marx says, “Money is thus the general overturning of individualities which turns them into their contrary”. 3 Money has the power to do something, which a person, as a human, cannot do. However the need for it becomes so essential that people are no longer validated by their humanistic attributes, rather we validate ourselves based on how much money we own. This need for money leads to workers laboring longer and, in turn, causes them to become more dehumanized.

Another relationship the workers have that demonstrates their dehumanization is the relationship between their families. For example, Maheu and La Maheude do not seem to hold much importance in compassion, concerning their relationship to each other and their family. While Estelle lay in her crib crying from hunger, La Maheude pulls her sheets above her head in an attempt to muffle the scream and Maheu casually continues to get dressed for his day, unfazed by the choking coming from the crib. When the crying gets too loud, Maheu snaps. He grabs his daughter and violently throws her on the bed, commanding La Maheude to feed her. This shows the objectification of Maheu’s family members from himself and the lack of compassion practiced by his family. Maheu sees his family merely as tools for a means of survival. La Maheude also objectifies children. When talking to M. Gregoire, she finds...
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