If one were to ask what the basis of human nature and civilization encompasses, I would tell them to read Victor Hugo’s epic novel, Les Miserables (1862). Set in various locations in France, spanning from 1815 to 1832, the novel follows the main protagonist, Jean Valjean. The story begins with the Bishop of Digne and his daily life. Jean Valjean, a released convict, stumbles upon the town where the Bishop lives and is shunned from every inn he goes to due to his status as a former prisoner. The only one who will let him take shelter is the Bishop of Digne. This act of kindness transforms Jean Valjean from being spiteful of humanity to being saint-like towards it, in regards to the Bishops wishes.
Several years later, Jean Valjean becomes the mayor of a small French town, Montfermeil, and goes under the new alias of M. Madeleine. Afterwards, he meets a woman by the name of Fantine, who suffers from a great amount of misery. Fantine, having no way to support her child, Cosette, has given her to a family named the Thenardiers to take care of Cosette until she can support her. Oblivious to the mother, the Thenardiers are cruel and treat Cosette as a slave. Jean Valjean promises to retrieve Cosette for her mother; however, he reveals his true identity when someone in a neighboring town is put to trial under his name. Fantine dies and Javert, a police inspector who follows Jean Valjean throughout the novel, arrests him.
Jean Valjean escapes from prison and finds Cosette. He buys her from the Thenardiers and adores her as his own child. They rent a small room in Paris, but Javert soon discovers them. While being chased, Jean Valjean manages to ascend into a convent of nuns with Cosette. They soon settle into the convent and live there for several years.
At this point, Marius, a new protagonist, enters the novel and becomes absorbed in his past. Having never known his father, Marius discovers and respects his father, a soldier of Waterloo. The orphan, Marius, leaves his grandfather’s house and lives on his own after a dispute regarding his deceased father. Marius frequently visits the Luxembourg Park where he spots and falls in love with Cosette. Jean Valjean, noticing Marius’s continuous gazes towards Cosette, stops going to the park and Marius soon becomes depressed. However, eventually, Marius discovers Cosette’s address and visits her frequently.
Cosette disappears and in an oath to die because of her disappearance, Marius acts in the Paris Uprising....