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Effects Of Love In Les Miserables By Victor Hugo

1160 words - 5 pages

The effects of love are different for each individual. Professor John Cacioppo discovered, “... love deprivation, unrequited love and loneliness have negative consequences on work performance and mental health...40 percent of people who are rejected in love experience depression” (A). Those who have happy childhood experiences filled with love, are more able to express their feelings of love to others. However, those whose childhood experiences lack the emotion of love, have difficulty showing any emotion to another. It is they who are sad, lonely, and depressed. In the novel Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, he illustrates the diverse reactions expressed because of love. Jean Valjean, Cosette, and Marius go through several experiences that enable them to feel the profound effects of love.
Several people in Jean Valjeans life allow him to rediscover the meaning of love. The good bishop is the one responsible for initiating this rediscovery. Jean Valjean's new life begins when the bishop utters the words, “Jean Valjean, my brother, you belong no longer to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from dark thoughts and from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God!” (30). This opens Jean Valjean to the good of the world and allows him to immerse himself in the love Cosette offers him, something he couldn't do without the help of the bishop. The bishop assists Jean Valjean in seeing that there are people who will help him despite his rocky background. This creates a reason for Jean Valjean to act on the experience to rebuild his life and become an honest man. This change of heart helps him feel the love that Cosette displays for him, which he has never known. He slowly begins to love and care for Cosette when he acknowledges, “... so long as she should be alive, so long as he should have her with him, he should need nothing except for her and fear nothing save her account” (176). Jean Valjean lives in absence of love. He has forgotten the jubilant feeling that occurs when he is loved and knows no different. He feels powerful affections for Cosette and needs nothing except her. She is his whole world and doesn't need or fear anything unless it involves her. In each of these cases, Jean Valjean experiences the sensation of happiness.
Cosette is deprived of the love that she desires and deserves. She longs for love and instead receives the opposite. The Thenardiers do not care for Cosette and do not view her as their child, to them she is a servant girl. When Jean Valjean offers to take Cosette away from the Thenardiers, they reply, “Ah monsieur! My good monsieur! Take her, keep her, take her away, carry her off, sugar her, stuff her, drink her, eat her, and be blessed by the holy Virgin and all the saints in paradise!” (154). The Thenardiers want Cosette out of their house, and no longer want the responsibility of taking care of the “imbecile child” (147). It is a blessing to them that this traveler has...

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