Models of Utopia: Representations of Nineteenth-Century Paris

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


In the texts analyzed in this thesis, nineteenth-century Paris illustrates the utopian principles formulated by Karl Mannheim whose conceptualizations concern the social and moral order that makes up human existence. His utopia is characterized by human thoughts, behaviors, and actions. In our analysis of the works by Charles Fourier, Victor Hugo, and Emile Zola, common themes emerge as each writer undertakes the task of representing the past, present, and future Paris. They describe ideas of poverty, sickness, and revolution as well as the importance of education, progress, and moral order. The most telling conclusion of utopia unveiled in the thesis is that each writer also depicts his vision of Paris with a specific and unique designation. For Fourier, a utopian Paris is described as Harmony. A harmonious state of being represents a society built on agreement, cooperation, and order. Hugo's representation of Paris comes under the epithet of Humanity and Fraternity. Hugo believes that Paris held the key to unlocking a society built on benevolence, cooperation, and camaraderie. Zola designates Paris as Modernity. For Zola, modernity creates a paradox of utopia/dystopia and order/disorder. However, Paris offers the hope of a ville beatitude wherein the well-being of all the families would be of highest priority to create happiness, security, and order. Though each writer had a different idealization of Paris, the analysis of utopian mentalities foregrounds their outlook on not only the city-space but of humanity which held much promise for harmony, happiness, and order in a future "utopian" state.



Nineteenth-century Paris, utopia, Mannheim, Fourier, Hugo, Zola, Harmony, Humanity, Fraternity, Modernity