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No Such Thing as a Perfect Murder

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Jose De Casas

Erin Bennett

Comparative Literature R1A

01 January 2018

No Such Thing as a Perfect Murder

        In the novel, Thérèse Raquin, the protagonist, Thérèse, has an affair with her husband’s best friend. In an act of passion, Thérèse and the best friend, Laurent, murder the husband, Camille, to live happily together. In the passage, though, it attests otherwise because they don’t feel the passion that they felt in the beginning. The narrator in the book, employs figurative language that compares their past and present relationship to show that the characters don’t love each other anymore. Additionally, previous text in the novel adds evidence to how the two lose their love for each other. Thérèse and Laurent were able to plan and execute the murder without being suspected, however the passage signifies their failure since they are no longer happy together.

        The juxtaposition used in the text projects the idea of what was once lovers, are now miserable. An example of this figurative language is when the narrator says “Their burning dreams ended in a peculiar reality…for their lust to be satisfied to the point of disgust and horror” (Zola 96). The diction used in this sentence refers to previous text tones where the word “burning” was related to how the couple use to feel. They felt a burning love between them, when they were being conspicuous about their affair. Whereas, the words “disgust” and “horror” refer to what the couple feels now that they have murdered Camille. Now that they have past their obstacles, they thought they would become happy, but it turned out to be the complete opposite.

        The parallel structure in the passage adds to the idea that, Thérèse and Laurent were both going through the same thoughts. Every sentence in the second paragraph began with “They…” and ended with what the characters were both feeling. For example, the narrator states “They felt ashamed of remaining so silent and gloomy face to face with another” (Zola 96). Thérèse and Laurent both felt ashamed for what they had done, and did not want to express it. The narrator then goes on saying, “They would have liked to have had the strength to squeeze each other to death, so as not to pass as idiots in their own eyes” (Zola 96). In this sentence, it can be interpreted that Thérèse and Laurent felt stupid for murdering Camille because they would rather die than to admit they do not love one another anymore. Once again, these two characters are holding in their true emotions with each other. This could be the cause of why these two ex-lovers will never become lovers again since they’re allowing their mental health to deteriorate from suppressing their intense feelings.

        Before Laurent and Thérèse became married, the two were blissfully separated. Their level of happiness was at the point where they didn’t even attempt to get back together for approximately two years. Their guilt, disguised as the ghost of Camille, consumed them. On page 80, Thérèse and Laurent decide to meet in private to plot their marriage. They believed, if they were to be married, Camille would leave them alone. When they marry however, the ghost of Camille does not go away, and they start to despise each other. The gloomy, depressing tone the narrator sets the passage in, suggests this. For instance, the narrator states “They had but to stretch their arms to clasp one another… their arms remain lifeless…” (Zola 96). The sentence contains negative connotation to it because of the word “lifeless”. The word “lifeless”, demonstrates how little the two characters want to interact with each other since, they don’t have enough energy to try. Though, the two ex-lovers wanted to be happy together, they failed because of their subconscious guilt.



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