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Les Misérables

Upon reflecting over today’s incessantly changing society, it becomes apparent that society as a whole remains vastly different compared to previous centuries. However, in order to achieve that vital change, select individuals, figures of the unprecedented modification of character that parallels society’s diverse changes, must effectively model it. Therefore, change, as regarded in the general public today, remains an indigenous occurrence that serves as a paramount part of our lives. As an author during the nineteenth century in France, Victor Hugo portrayed the role of change and the transforming of individuals over time through his complex, thematic melodramas and served as one of the most regarded authors of the Romantic period. Especially during the revolution-filled later 1700s and early 1800s in France, change served as a major component of reconciling the burdens of the past and served as Hugo’s method of depicting the fundamental emotional development of characters. In his Romantic melodrama Les Misérables, Victor Hugo expresses numerous thematic implications of important changes the protagonist Jean Valjean experiences within French society through his detailed account of Valjean’s gradual moral and psychological transformation.

In order to guide us through Les Misérables, Hugo immediately introduces the initial Jean Valjean as an unchanged and hardened criminal who visits a religious man, conveying his encounter with the honorable bishop as the first phase of his spiritual transformation. Victor Hugo explicitly depicts Valjean as a “convict just from the galleys,” establishing the reason for the “yellow passport” that he must carry with him and serving as a symbolic barrier between him and the rest of society, marri...

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...as a kind of father to his adopted daughter Cosette.

As the result of numerous emotional renewals and the determination to lead a better life, Jean Valjean is able to change from a mentally hardened convict who detests society to a moral figure who strives to aid others. As Victor Hugo constantly implies throughout Les Misérables, it is very possible to alter the state of your life, employing Jean as the epitome of change and its implications. Thus, no matter what the circumstances may be, it is evident that one may rise above the setbacks in their life and transform the flaws and degradations that inadvertently burden one’s existence into a source of optimism and positive renewal. Change exists almost as a natural process ingrained into society, providing individuals with a chance to rectify the mistakes of the past regardless of social and emotional setbacks.
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