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"Les Miserables" By Victor Hugo Essay

1351 words - 5 pages

"So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine, with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age-the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of woman by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night-are not solved; so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless."-Victor HugoCorruption, evils of society, injustice, and the battle against oppression are problems that existed in France during the Revolution and that continue to exist in today's society. The novel Les Misérables by Victor Hugo tells its readers a story of a corrupted society where neither good nor evil can win. This novel shows that an individual can overcome these miseries and live in peace with the corrupt world around him, but this road to peace is not an easy one. Hugo illustrates the injustice of the French legal system during the time of the French Revolution, the constant battle against oppression that the people of France had to fight, and the strict standard of the class-based society at that time. This is all exposed in the novel through the characters that Hugo creates, characters that are realistic and whom the reader can truly relate to.During the time of the French Revolution, the time when the novel is based upon, the justice system in France was unfair, unreasonable, and, unjust. Take the main character in the Les Misérables, Jean Valjean, as a prime example of how this justice system worked. Even though Valjean did commit the crime of stealing a loaf of bread for his sister's starvingchildren, being sent to prison for five years (his original sentence) is completely absurd. "...there is a wide gulf between men of this kind and the murderous criminals in the towns." (Misérables 93). Overall, Valjean served nineteen years imprisoned because of his many attempts to escape the hardships bestowed upon him by the justice system. It seems as though the justice system at that time is more concerned about getting more people off the streets then protecting the innocent from brutality, since it is those innocent people that are being sent to the prisons. The judicial system is more like a bully, harassing those who are lesser than them, knowing that they can get away with it since they are also ironically supposed to be the protectors of those lesser people. The justice system is "...a sort of assault by the stronger on the weaker, a crime committed by society against the individual..." (Misérables 97).The way that the justice system treats minor criminals is remarkably different from the way that certain higher-class criminals are treated. The Patron-Minette crime ring and their associates are real criminals who rob and murder on a grand scale, but they receive only short sentences in prisons that are easy to escape. "They...

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