“We are products of our past, but we don't have to be prisoners of it” (Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?). People do bad things - it’s human nature. It is how these wrongs are fixed that make a person truly remarkable. People have strived to make themselves better and are always searching for ways to fix the things they did wrong. This idea of redemption is especially evident in Victor Hugo’s classic, Les Miserables. Les Miserables, is based in the post French Revolutionary period and through the events in the story, characters such as Jean Valjean and Javert are tried and tested. Many characters within this French epic commit their lives to redeeming themselves, Jean Valjean and Javert are only two examples of those who seek redemption. In Les Miserables, Victor Hugo uses symbolism, characterization, and archetypes to develop the theme of redemption.
Victor Hugo astutely uses symbols to represent many of the characters’ endeavors for redemption. When Jean Valjean is first released he seeks shelter at Digne, where he meets Bishop Myriel. Despite the kindness of the Bishop, known to many as Monseigneur Bienvenu, Jean Valjean steals from him. Jean Valjean pilfers objects of high value, like silver, but the gendarme eventually catch and return him to the Bishop. Monseigneur Bienvenu acts as if he is not surprised by the stealing and goes on to tell the gendarme that he had given the silver to Jean Valjean. The Bishop goes on to take “the two candlesticks ...‘Now,’ said the bishop,, ‘go in peace’...‘Forget not, never forget that you have promised me to use this silver to become an honest man” (Hugo 34). The two silver candlesticks are symbolic of redemption and mark the beginning of Jean Valjean’s ch...
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... in a true act of redemption confesses his true identity even though it would ruin his new life as mayor. Ironically, both fire and water are used as archetypes to show redemption. When Jean Valjean escapes from Toulon by “falling” off the Orion, he is reborn from his old-life as a convict. He uses this opportunity for redemption by keeping his promise to Fantine and taking Cosette. Ascent is used as an archetype when Jean Valjean saves Cosette and himself by scaling the wall. As they ascend higher and higher, it becomes evident that Jean Valjean is changing. He is no longer a convict, but both a mother and father figure to Cosette. Jean Valjean loves and protects Cosette no matter what it costs him. In conclusion, Victor Hugo presents the fault in human society that we do do bad things - even good people, but it is how people fix their wrongs that they are redeemed.
Hugo’s social commentary focuses on three main concepts that he believes must be reformed in the French society: criminal justice, education and the treatment of women. By showing the unreasonable punishments both Valjean and Fantine shows how the social structure has turned innocent and good people into criminals.
As the era of literature slowly declines, the expert critiques and praise for literature are lost. Previously, novels were bursting at the seams with metaphors, symbolism, and themes. In current times, “novels” are simply short stories that have been elaborated on with basic plot elements that attempt to make the story more interesting. Instead of having expert critical analysis written about them, they will, most likely, never see that, as recent novels have nothing to analyze. Even books are beginning to collect dust, hidden away and forgotten, attributing to the rise of companies such as Spark Notes. An author deserves to have his work praised, no matter how meager and the masses should have the right to embrace it or to reject it. As much of this has already been considered, concerning Les Misérables, the purpose of this paper is to compare, contrast, and evaluate Victor Hugo’s use of themes and characterization in his novel, Les Misérables.
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.
Meursault holds the ultimate power of choice over his actions, and with the power of choice comes a responsibility to atone for the consequences resulting from said choice. Meursault’s responsibility is motivated by the morals that he develops as an individual, which leads to a conflict with the morally void society. Meursault is shown to be heroic through his acceptance of his responsibilities in spite of the conflicts with society, and using Meursault as an example, Camus demonstrates that it is a heroic action to live up to one’s responsibility in the face of conflict from external sources. Meursault is not a hero because of what he does; he is a hero because of what he does not do: Meursault refuses to compromise on his moral values and responsibilities despite conflict from society.
For instance, Meursault develops the theme of absurdity in two different contexts namely figurative and literal level. On the symbolic level, he is concerned to death after being found guilty. This is a portrayal of the human condition who have to face the consequences after committing a crime more so, a capital offense like murder. On the other hand, literally of the action is seen when he describes the character of a revolt, freedom, and passion. Meursault is not moved by the expectations of the society and does what he feels is best for him. In many cases throughout the novel, he refused to abide by the customs of the society and instead resorted to smoking. Other things he did against the society expectations includes showing indifference during the vigil of his mother, going to the beach with Marie, and spending time with her immediately after his mother was buried as well as writing a letter for his friend, Raymond. His ability to exercise what he believes in and his freedom make it difficult for the society to impose on him some restrictions on his life. He is constant pursuance of pleasure and experiences makes it difficult for him to conform to the norms and values of the
It is believed by many that it is human nature to deem themselves to be a tantamount to God. Such is the case when one decides to take revenge against those who wrong him. Though vengeance seems like the perfect way to achieve justice, a sense of equity, in actuality it is merely an unsatisfactory hypocritical action. This is the definitive realization of the protagonist, Edmond Dantès in Alexandre Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo”. The protagonist comes to understand that after a lifetime of searching for justice, he really only yearns justice from himself. Akin to many of Alexandre Dumas’ other masterpieces, “The Count of Monte Cristo” is a dramatic tale of mystery and intrigue that paints a dazzling, dueling, exuberant vision of the Napoleonic era in France. In this thrilling adventure, Edmond Dantès is toiling with the endeavor of attaining ultimate revenge, after being punished by his enemies and thrown into a secret dungeon in the Chateau d’If. He reluctantly learns that his long intolerable years in captivity, miraculous escape and carefully wrought revenge are all merely vital parts in his journey of awakening to the notion that there is no such thing as happiness or unhappiness, there is merely the comparison between the two. Ultimately, the irony that Dumas is presenting through this novel suggests that the inability to attain happiness through the hypocrisy that is revenge is because one is really avenging their own self. This becomes evident through his dramatic transformations from a naïve, young sailor, to a cold, cynical mastermind of vengeance, and finally to a remorseful, humble man who is simply content.
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...
...able option. Camus’s main character, Meursault, embodies this third option; by accepting his circumstances and being indifferent to them, Meursault is able to break free of all possible causes of anxiety and find happiness. Furthermore, Meursault’s rejection of religion as belief, his acceptance of the “benign indifference of the universe”, and his acceptance of his circumstances all leading to happiness personifies Camus’s take on Absurdism, the philosophy that Camus is trying to depict in The Stranger (76). By using foil characters to contrast Meursault in actions or personality, Camus creates several polarizing situations, making Meursault the extreme epitome of Absurdism in every contrasting relationship and thus, shining light on his ideology in the process.
...he world, which causes him to encounter a form of enlightenment that makes him come to realization of the true world. The realization of the world sprouts the idea that the universe is indifferent and life has no true meaning. Because Meursault realizes that the universe is indifferent to people and that he makes no importance to the world, he is reborn to a life that makes sense to him. The nonexistent emotions from the first part and the outburst of emotions from the second part cause a juxtaposition of Meursault as a character in the two sections. Camus uses elemental diction and sentence structure to portray this change in character and his acceptance of the universe around him. He accepts his death, finding that his life is truly meaningless, and believes that his life is a model for the philosophical ideas that he has come in terms with.
Giving is an activity that people do every day. Receiving something in return tends to be the motivation for people to be generous. Very few people in this world will actually donate their time, effort, or money without acquiring a service or gift in return. The author of Les Misérables, Victor Hugo, knew of one of these magnanimous and charitable people. Inspired by all the altruistic deeds he has seen and heard about, Hugo created the Bishop of Dignes. The Bishop of Dignes time and time again demonstrates what it means to be a selfless Christian through his actions.
Meursault, an unemotional, a moral, sensory-orientated character at the beginning of the book, turns into an emotional, happy man who understands the "meaninglessness" and absurdity of life by the end of the book. Meursault realizes that the universe is indifferent to man's life and this realization makes him happy. He realizes that there is no God and that the old codes of religious authoritarianism are not enough to suffice man's spiritual needs. One has to create one's won meaning in an absurd, meaningless world.
...iod when Camus writes this novel. Camus obviously knew the time period and explored different ideas and philosophies about pointless of life in people which comes out in his character, Meursault. In prison Meursualt also realizes that he’s trapped, and there’s no way out as he remembers what the nurse once said to him. His growth in self reflection results in unimportance of emotional values of life and help focus what’s directly ahead of him. This significant change results him in understanding himself and his voice, and figuring out his capabilities and philosophies. Time spent in prison helps Meursault finally understands himself, the meaninglessness of life, and the unimportance of time which shows the shift in the character after sent to prison.
The protagonist, Meursault, was interesting character. His ideas and beliefs seem to point to a time when there is no hope to be had. Although he is able to accept the fact that everyone dies and in so doing realizes that you can live better. He lives a controlled life in which he takes responsibility for all of his actions. This is a direct reflect of Camus personal beliefs about absurdism.
The authors' relations to us on the characters' places in society help us to relate to and comprehend their actions. If Meursault hadn't been so detached from society, Noboru so discontented with society, and Medea so vengeful toward society, we wouldn't have half of the justification needed to understand the murders that took place in the works. Given the presented material about conformity, I conclude that the stories' plots indeed grow around the unique attributes of the non-conformers, and as result, spark the reader's imagination to the fullest.
“It is precisely of him that I wished to speak. Dispose of me as you please; but help me first to carry him home. I only ask that of you.” Upon examination of Les Miserables, it is clearly evident that the elements of Forgiveness, Self – Sacrifice, and Courage are only a few of the main themes Hugo wanted to develop.