The union between Thérèse and Laurent – a union of nerves and blood

Corinna Heiss, U. S. A., ID LLCE2016-364;        In his preface to Thérèse Raquin, Zola states that he wants to study “les troubles d’une nature sanguine au contact d’une nature nerveuse.” In dependence on Hippocrates’ pseudo-medical typology of four types of humors, Zola links his characters to different “natures.” His characters are therefore determined by their heritage and their milieu. Hence, Laurent is associated with blood, whereas Thérèse with nerves. In this context, it is also important to take into account that blood always represents the body, whereas nerves represent the brain. In the novel Thérèse shows a growing influence on Laurent. As the spirit of the crime, it is her idea to murder Camille and she manages to convince Laurent to carry out her plan. This shows her incredible power over him and reminds one of the working mechanisms between brain and body. In this study, I want to determine how Laurent’s nature changes under the influence of Thérèse. In addition, I also want to delineate why Zola chose to murder Laurent with prussic acid instead of stabbing him with knife.

Keywords: blood, nerve, temperament