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An analysis of "The Masterpiece" by Emile Zola

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  1. Claude Lantier and his muse Christine Hallegrain
  2. Claude's depression and frustration

Each artist's life is surrounded by passion. It can be a pleasant association, one filled with success and inspiration, or it can be deadly and obsessive. In the case of Emile Zola's "The Masterpiece", Claude Lantier, a young painter, is consumed with creating his vision, his life's work. However, his inspiration drives him to madness, and he sinks into a depression that takes over his life. In the end, his passion for his art causes Lantier to lose all that is important to him, and to give up his life in the process.

[...] This time there was nobody even to spit and pass on. It was death (291). Although each individual is indeed fueled by a drive to excel, Zola makes the reader understand the exorbitant amount of grief that Lantier experiences at the passing over of his painting is more hurtful than the actual passing of his child, Jacques. Whereas unbridled passion is an admirable trait in a human being, it is vital to the happiness and success of human nature to understand the importance of what is around you, and to treasure each gift that you, as an individual have been given. [...]


[...] His foundation for living is based on his career, on his creations. This is evident when Zola writes, Claude suffered even more deeply to see his work ignored. Surprised and disappointed, he looked about him for the crowd, the throng he had expected and why there was no one there to scoff. The jeers, the insults, the indignation he had had to hear in the past, though painful at the time, had given him a zest for life. Where were they now? [...]

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