Both St. Francis and St. Albert offer a strong understanding of what charity mean. Likewise so do Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo. In Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, love presents itself as the underlying leitmotif. Through the life-changing exchange between Bienvenu and Valjean, to Syndey Carton willingly giving his life in place of Darnay, all the way to Lucy Manette and Valjean saving lives of others through their selflessness, Hugo and Dickens deliver the true meaning of love.
Light symbolizes Godliness and honestly throughout both novels. This light, first presents itself atop the Bishop Bienvenu, allocating a certain angelic appeal. “On his forehead rested the indescribable reflection of an unseen light“ (Hugo 101) His appearance as an angel advocates Bienvenu as the saving grace to Jean Valjean. Consequently when Jean Valjean became an honest man, this light spread from the Bishop to Valjean. This dispersion of light occurred throughout his life, but most prominently appeared when Valjean laid on his deathbed. Glimmering his face, “the light from the candlesticks fell across him; his white face looked up toward heaven.” (Hugo 1462) This light symbolizes his change of heart and turn from thievery to righteousness. Also the light from the “candlesticks” correlates back to the occurrence of Valjean stealing the candlesticks from Bienvenu. Formerly the candlesticks symbolized Valjean’s struggle toward righteousness, at the end however they symbolized his changed heart. The candlesticks illuminate his face now, juxtaposition to them hiding his face before. In hiding his face, they depicted his impiety, now however they expose their light, illuminating his righteousness. Lucy Manette also …
…cruelty. Although love sometimes disguises itself, it always finds a way to survive even in the darkest of places. Valjean and Manette turned their lives around, through the love of others. Lucy and Bienvenu served as saving graces for many by loving people when nobody else id. Consequently the true meaning of love surfaces most prominently in the lives of the unfortunate, hence all the characters within the novels depict love. The thriving of charity presents itself through simple acts, but ultimately in the giving up one’s life for another. For love lives in the hearts of the people, but reveals itself their actions. Thus in acting out of love, one defines love, and displays it for the world to see.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1989. Print.
Hugo, Victor. Les Miserables. New York: Modern Library, 1987. Print