Representing Liberty: Revolution, Sexuality,and Science in Michelet's Histories and Zola's Fiction

In describing heroines resembling the Marianne figure, Michelet and Zola revealed conservative fears of revolution and patriarchal anxieties concerning female sexuality. Michelet symbolized Joan of Arc as a courageous warrior who suffered for her masculine dress, and he judged Marie-Antoinette's feminine wiles as undoing the monarchy. Zola also described women as ineffectual or dangerous; in La Fortune des Rougon Miette failed as an insurrectionist because desire weakened her, while the powerful Félicité subverted her husband's authority. Following the model of the scientist who tames nature, Michelet and Zola proposed that by impregnating a woman a husband would control her and improve the country. (CC)
Colatrella, Carol
Volume 1991-1992 Fall-Winter; 20(1-2): 27-43