The novel by Victor Hugo entitled Les Miserables is story that looks into the life of John Valjean and his exploits towards awakening, redemption and survival. It depicts his transformation from a galley prisoner towards a new man. It conveys the different decisions and actions committed by a man towards choosing his path in life. Likewise, there are other characters that intertwine and provide relevant impact in Jean Valjean’s life and growth as an individual.
Moreover, the setting of the story outlines the significance of societal factors that has been influential in the creation of decisions and actions that transpired in the duration of the story. Analyzing the different themes presented by Hugo in this story, one significant element in present in the idea is the element of morals, values, and perceptions. Looking at it, John Valjean is convicted because of stealing bread and was sent to the galleys. Upon his escape, he became aware of the prejudice and bias that society has given him.
In here, Hugo was able to showcase the transformation of Jean Valjean from a criminal into an honest man with the help of the Bishop Myriel. Hugo mentions this in the novel by saying that “Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. It is your soul I am buying for you. I withdraw it from dark thoughts and from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God! ” (p. 106). Another significant element that makes the book worth reading is its ability to showcase that amidst the presence of darkness and suffering, redemption do happens and it creates and avenues for change to occur.
This was evident in the novel as different books presented these ideas in a different manner. For example, the suffering of Fantine and Cosette to survive was alleviated by Jean Valjean’s adoption of Cosette. Likewise, the suffering of Jean Valjean for acceptance and worth was compensated by becoming the Mayor M. Madeleine and serving the needs of people. The ability of the story to present the realities and harshness of life is also an interesting part to consider.
Hugo was able to outline the significant areas that surround ones mind as he synthesizes them and provides the development for the characters. This was stated when Hugo said that “The generation now having its passing turn on earth is not compelled to abridge it for the generations, its equals after all, that will have their turn afterward . . . Hence, at certain periods, a deep chill on the magnanimous vanguard of the human race. ” (p. 1242). Exploring on the idea of change, I would have to agree with the idea of Hugo that it happens because of ones ability to decide for their own.
Whatever the outcome may be, it is their relevant that individuals use it for their own growth. This is the process for one to cultivate the totality of humanity and what it’s supposed to be. As Hugo argues, “from one end to the other; in its whole and in its details, whatever the omissions, the exceptions, or the faults – is the march from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from the false to the true, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from rottenness to life, from brutality to duty, from Hell to Heaven, from nothingness to God” (p. 1242).
Lastly, I would have to agree with the notion of Hugo that time and love can transcend betrayal and deception. This has been present and evident in various situations experienced by Jean Valjean. One significant example is the quote which says “by which the writing reversed on the blotter was corrected by the mirror and presented its original form; and Jean Valjean had beneath his eyes the letter Cosette had written Marius the evening before It was simple and devastating” (p. 1152).
Though this situation did happen, Jean Valjean began to accept Marius as his own which came to a point of even rescuing him from the conflict and struggle. This is one manifestation of how the overall idea of love can help overcome and provide new avenues for change. By reading this book, I came to appreciate the situations happening around. It gave me the idea that our decisions can affect what our lives would be in the future.
Likewise, it is through love, compassion and forgiveness that individuals, groups, and societies can overcome the hurdles and challenges brought about by pain, deception, deceit and violence. Overall, the book offers various areas that open up the mind of readers of the possibilities and realities that are happening. Hugo was able to convey a mixture of feelings that cultivate a total experience once reading the novel. In here, he combines the familiar facets of politics, religion, romance, and social situations that make the process of understanding significant and timeless in its own right.
To conclude, the themes and issues presented in the book can be summarized by Hugo’s quote which says “The history of men is reflected in the history of cloacae” (p. 1462). In here, it just shows how one can grow and pursue life depending on what we take inside. It means that the actions, values, ideals, and perceptions that we accommodate and acquire dictate what we are and what we can become. This influences our actions and decisions in life as we find new ways to live according to the standards and changes happening.