True virtue has no limits, but goes on and on, and especially holy charity, which is the virtue of virtues, and which having a definite object, would become infinite if it could meet with a heart capable of infinity.
-St. Francis de Sales
It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws near to man, and man to God. But where charity is not found, God cannot dwell. If, then, we possess charity, we possess God, for "God is Charity" (1 John 4:8)
-St. Albert the Great
The heartfelt emotion of charity shines throughout Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Each character shows love and charity differently to numerous people. Charity can also be called “love” from the various translations of the King James Bible. Jesus Christ imitates the perfect way to express charity. His example represents the perfect way for people to show the feeling of love within their heart to the others around them.
Jean Valjean understands the deep emotions felt when the desire to love others persists in one’s heart. Valjean originally felt this desire specifically within his own family. Though during his years in prison, he lost it. In striving to feed his starving family by stealing a loaf of bread, Valjean earned himself “nineteen years” in prison. “He entered in 1796 for having broken a pane of glass and taken a loaf of Bread” (Hugo 86) Valjean loved his family so dearly that he risked rotting in jail rather than seeing them starve. He demonstrates pure charity in this act, for no sane person, would risk his life for others, unless his motivations lie in love. Then love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) Valjean perfectly demonstrates the infinite measures people will take out of love, in his selfless act of attempting to provide for his family.
Valjean’s time in prison, given to him for attempt at stealing to take care of his family, resembles the life of St. Paul. St. Paul also received imprisonment for attempting to show love and live out life with good intentions. He received captivity for expressing his love for Christ and spreading that love to others. Valjean earned imprisonment for attempting to feed his family, with unlawfully received bread. Each suffered greatly, though Valjean’s suffering came from an immoral act. Although Valjean received less time in jail, his heart became altered much more severely than St. Paul’s. Valjean completely turned his heart to stone. He lost slight of his original love and desire to show charity to others. He lost the all-consuming craving to care for the people around him. Not until God reached into his life by means of the Bishop M. Myriel, also known as Bienvenu, did Valjean break his heart of stone and replace it with a heart full of love.
Bienvenu remained a simple man throughout his life. His simplicity and willingness to share the entirety of his possessions with the needy affected the lives of many. Bienvenu truly follows the example of Christ,...