logo

50 pages 1 hour read

Émile Zola, Transl. Gerhard Krüger

Nana

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1880

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Symbols & Motifs

The Fly

In Chapter 7, Fauchery writes an opinion piece for the Figaro that condemns Nana in the harshest possible terms, not as an actress but as a person who is infecting Parisian society with her loose morals. The article is titled “La Mouche d’Or,” meaning The Golden Fly. Like a fly, Fauchery writes, Nana enjoys wallowing in filth and then spreading it around to anyone with whom she comes in contact, infecting the upper classes without a second thought.

The fly is an apt symbol for Nana in the sense that insects do not spread disease out of malice; they simply follow their instincts, unconscious of their actions’ effects. Similarly, Zola’s naturalist ideology leads him to portray Nana as a woman merely following the instincts she has collected through heredity and environment. Yes, she sometimes develops and acts on personal resentments; at times she even justifies her ruination of men as a form of revenge for her lower-class background and previous ill treatment. However, she wreaks much of her ruin without premeditation. Steiner, for instance, is a lover she mostly considers a boring annoyance. She has no simmering resentment against him. She makes demands for money, and he obliges until he has nothing left.

blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
Unlock IconUnlock all 50 pages of this Study Guide
Plus, gain access to 8,000+ more expert-written Study Guides.
Including features:
+ Mobile App
+ Printable PDF
+ Literary AI Tools