Discussion questions for Zola, The Ladies' Paradise

We will be discussing Zola's novel, The Ladies' Paradise on Thursday, March 10. Here are the questions you should be ready to discuss:

1) What is the underlying economic and commercial climate of the novel? How is Paris changing?

2) What innovations does Mouret introduce in his department store in order to get customers to buy? How are they similar to retailing practices today?

3) What are the working and living conditions of the department store employees?

4) What impact does the store have on the neighborhood, especially small shopkeepers?

5) What role do bourgeois (middle- and upper-middle class) women play in the new consumer culture?

6) What is the overall impact of the department store on the city of Paris?

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