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The Ladies’ Paradise interactive text analyser

The final episode of The Paradise – a major drama series on BBC 1 – aired last night in the UK. Adapted from Émile Zola’s novel The Ladies’ Paradise (Au Bonheur des Dames) and set against the backdrop of the spectacular rise of the department store in the 1860s and 70s, the story follows the fortunes of a young girl from the provinces who starts work as a salesgirl in the shop, and her entanglement with the charismatic owner. The model for the store in Zola’s novel, set in Paris, is the Bon Marché, but there were parallel developments in the explosion of retail opportunities in the United States and England, and the BBC has relocated the action to the north of England.

There is a great cast of characters, a powerful love story, all the social intrigue of the staff’s relationships and rivalries, as well as some fascinating comparisons with modern-day retail practices: Mouret (Moray in the television adaptation), the business genius behind the shop’s success, is an arch manipulator who uses every marketing trick in the book to seduce his female customers, and tramples over smaller rivals on the way.

Compare love and death, madame and monsieur, Mouret and Denise, silk and lace: click on the image below to start exploring the text of The Ladies’ Paradise in a new way.

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