The Economics of Gender in Zola's 'Au Bonheur des Dames'
Octave combines an exuberant heterosexual sex life with a highly female temperament. Zola describes him as a woman in his personal tastes and habits. Because of this female orientation of his personality, he achieves enormous success as a department store entrepreneur in Second Empire Paris. Being a woman in his likes and dislikes, he has a genius for choosing merchandise that will appeal to his mostly female clientele. He pursues fortune with an aggressiveness traditionally associated with men, but his protectionist treatment of his workers reveals the humane or womanly side of his nature. His store becomes a utopian universe within the general society. His benevolence is reinforced when he falls in love with a woman employee who is a champion of workers' rights.
Keywords: Economics, Gender, Capitalism, Naturalism, Utopianism
Dr. James Paul Gilroy
Professor of French and Humanities, Department of Languages and Literatures, University of Denver