Study Help Essay Questions


1. Nana never enters directly into aristocratic society, yet she has a tremendous influence on this society. Show specific instances of how Nana intrudes upon and influences the values of the entire population.

2. How does Nana's heredity influence her inability to be satisfied in her luxurious environment as a courtesan?

3. How does The Blond Venus represent the entire second empire in France?

4. Choose two or more examples of crowd scenes and show how Zola is able to portray the mass emotions of many diverse people.

5. Using the entire novel, show how Zola is attempting to condemn the role prostitution played in the second empire.

6. What are some of the various ways that Zola lets the reader know that he is writing a condemnation of Nana? How important is Zola's own descriptions of Nana in considering his view of her?

7. How do Nana's relationships with Steiner, Georges Hugon, and Fontan function in connection with the central Muffat-Nana relationship?

8. Citing specific examples, comment upon the function of irony in such a naturalistic novel as Nana.

9. Trace the use of animal imagery throughout the novel and comment on its total function.

10. From a moral viewpoint, Nana's death is deserved. But what is gained from an artistic viewpoint by having Nana die of smallpox? Was her death necessary to the total esthetic effect of the novel?