The Triumph Of Les Misérables Essay

1439 words - 6 pages

The Triumph of Les Misérables

Les Misérables (1862), a novel set in early nineteenth century France, presents a story of obsessions in honor, love, and duty, and through it redemption and salvation. It is the story of the poor Jean Valjean, condemned to an unfair amount of time in prison and a life on the run for stealing a loaf of bread for his starving family. The kind act of forgiveness from a Bishop with whom Jean Valjean stays one night, changes the course in which he chooses to live his life. Under a different identity, he becomes wealthy from a business he starts and later is elected mayor of the small town of Montreuil. He falls madly in love with Fantine, one of the workers in his factory. Because Fantine, one of the very poorest and most pitiful residents of Montreuil, has a child born out of wedlock, Jean Valjean as the respected mayor must keep his love for her a secret. When Fantine dies unexpectedly, Jean Valjean vows he will raise her daughter Cosette, and shield her from all the evils in the world. Through all of this, Jean Valjean is being pursued by Javert, a policeman whose entire life has been dedicated to finding Jean Valjean. While running from Javert, Jean Valjean and Cosette find themselves in Paris in the middle of the 1832 Revolution. As Cosette matures, she falls in love with Marius, a young revolutionist. Despite the objections of Jean Valjean, Cosette continues to secretly visit Marius at night. During the revolution, Marius is injured badly and Jean Valjean, after finding a love note from Marius to Cosette, quickly comes to the rescue of the wounded gentleman. Eventually Jean Valjean and Marius' Grandfather consent to the wedding of Cosette and Marius. In this novel, "there is a point at which the unfortunate and the infamous are associated and confounded in a single word, a fatal word, Les Misérables" (205). Even though the character's fate is leading them to lives of misery, their obsession to have a perfectly complete and happy life in their eyes is prevailing. In Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables he uses the character's obsession to portray the hardships people are willing to endure to obtain what they truly desire in their lives.

Jean Valjean, the main character of the book, has two obsessions throughout the novel; living by the Bishop's word (becoming a man of God's will,) and protecting and raising Cosette away from the evils of the world. In the beginning of the story, Jean Valjean can not find anyone to take him in for the night. Because he is a convict, marked by a yellow passport, the Bishop's home is the only door open to him. "A convict may leave the galleys behind, but not his condemnation" (26). Despite the Bishop's kindness, during the night Jean Valjean steals all of the silver from the house and flees the town. Not far from the Bishop's house, Jean Valjean is captured and returned to the Bishop, who tells the police he gave the silver to the convict. Once the police excuse themselves,...

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