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Les MisйRables

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Les Misйrables is an epic tale of hope, empathy, sympathy, redemption and hate set in post-revolutionary France. Written by acclaimed author Victor Hugo, Les Misйrables follows the transformation of its two main characters from criminal to honest man and from dedicated reactionary to compassionate fellow man. Written sometime between 1845 and 1862, Hugo provides a detailed look into nineteenth century France's society and politics. BY combining his story of redemption with the wrongdoings of the French government, Hugo sharply criticized French political policies and hoped his work may encourage change for the future.

Hugo describes the setting of Les Misйrables with great detail. Part of the motives of Hugo were to set a tone of miserable elements for the lead character Valjean, and for anyone who lived under the poverty line in France in the early nineteenth century. Poverty was rampant during these times and with the radical "science" of reactionaries, many people were condemned for life due to a mistake they may have made early in their life. The surroundings and details described are very accurate and play a very large role in the storyline. This description of the elements faced by the poor and underprivileged was an obvious stab at the government and greatly emphasizes the story's plot of redemption.

The characters in Les Misйrables, while not historically factual characters, are very easily believed and would fit perfectly into the time period. Jean Valjean, the protagonist, is an ex-convict who leaves behind a life of theft and deceit for a life as an honest man. He takes on a new persona and makes his fortune honestly and ultimately makes his goal in life redemption. Javert is the story's antagonist and is a reactionary who believes in the law and will stop at nothing to enforce the harsh laws of France. With no pity, he believes that humans are either inherently good or bad. He sees Valjean's fortunes as an injustice and chases him relentlessly. Cosette is the adoptive daughter of Valjean, who came to father her through a promise to her mother Fantine, whom Valjean knew only a short time, but fell in love with her quickly. Fantine had fallen in love with a wealthy student who abandoned her and had Cosette out of wedlock. She left Cosette in the car of the Thenadiers and paid for her upkeep through factory work and after her firing through prostitution. The character of Thenardier plays a role in actual history being that he was was at the Battle of Waterloo. It was there that this man's true self was portrayed, for he stripped valuables from the corpses of soldiers. It is with these valuables that he buys the inn at which Fantine left Cosette. Cosette was treated as a hated stepchild by the Thanarniers who forced her to work at earn her keep. Valjean rescues Cosette from the Thenadiers and adopts her as his own. Later, Cosette will fall in love with Marius, the son of a colonel in Napoleon's army. These characters weave together the injustices and redemptions of the plot. These fictional characters would easily fit into the historical setting Hugo describes.

The action of the novel begins in 1815, the year of Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, which insured that the revolution was over and a king would be back on the throne. The story stretches through 1832, the year of the unsuccessful red flag student and worker rebellion against the government.

The plot of this story, though very easily believable for the time period, is fictional. While the characters do not dramatize n eventful moment in history, they do depict an eventful period of the past. The plot follows Jean Valjean, a kind illiterate farm worker after his release from prison for the theft of bread, five years for the bread and fourteen for to escape. The kind bishop Myriel of Digne helps Valjean after his release only to be robbed by him. When the police catch



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