Les miserables by Victor Hugo and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hossieni both have tragic themes. Les miserables is a story set during 1815 in Digne, France (Hugo, 1994) about the struggles and quest for freedom of a convicted man by the name of Jean-Valijean. During the course of the story, his encounters and connection to two of the most important characters in his life – Fantine and Cosette was actually the main plot of the story. A Thousand Splendid Suns had its name through a poem entitled “KABUL. ” This poem symbolizes Mariam, who is one of main characters in the story.
It is a poem describing the beauty of the city of Kabul and how on the same city, a person is able to see a splendid sun each day (Hosseini, 2007). Aside from having the same themes, both stories (Les miserables and A Thousand Splendid Suns) also was able to show its readers the conflicts and the hardships that women during those times face. In Les miserables, Fantine was forced to become a “prostitute” in order to provide for her daughter (Hugo, 1994). This was because she was laid off from the factory she works for after her employers discovered that she has an illegitimate child.
A thousand Splendid suns, on the other hand, shared to readers the story of young Mariam who was forced to marry, was discriminated by the society and finally was imprisoned for her honesty (Hosseini, 2007). The two stories, although written on different genres by authors of different cultures speaks of the experiences of every man and women. It talks of life in general (Jean’s search for freedom, Mariam questioning the meaning of her life, Javert’s obsession to make all offenders of the law pay and Cosette’s unconditional love for Marius).
The two stories, amidst its dark tone give its readers a choice on whether to stay in the dark side of life or to eventually come out of the sun and continue living despite of all the struggles they need to overcome. The characters in both stories are unforgettable. In Les miserables, readers see a young Jean who seems to prefer being an outlaw. During the coursework of the story, readers are able to witness how the goodness in every man has won over Jeans’ weaknesses.
He turns out to be the hero who saves the future of Fantine and Cosette. While on A Thousand Splendid Suns, readers are presented with two very powerful women – Mariam and Laila. Their strengths come not from physical attributes but from being able to walk through the storms of life and still stand unabashed. The difference between the two literary pieces can be seen with the way human values was depicted by the main characters. Mariam in A Thousand Splendid Suns showed readers a very important human value which is honesty.
Amidst the knowledge that she can be imprisoned for her admission of accidentally killing her husband, she still surrendered herself to the authorities and accepted her fate. Jean-Valijean in Les miserables, run all his life from the responsibility of what he has done in the past. He lived a life outside the prison bars but was a prisoner of his own fears. Among the two, we can say that it was Mariam who was truly free for she has died while “paying” for her sins and thus, leaves the society without guilt in her heart. Les miserables is a literary piece with timeless life lessons.
It is still popular today because it speaks of human nature in general. A Thousand Splendid Suns is also acclaimed not only because it depicts of the harshness of society’s pressures but it also reminds us that is always the truth which can set us free. There is nothing better than having to read books that not only touches the spirit and soul but also tickles every reader’s imagination. References: Hosseini, K. (2007). A Thousand Splendid Suns. Bandung: Mizan Media Utama. Hugo, V. (1994). Les Miserables. Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Classics.