“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.
First off, is the element of forgiveness. In a book of mistrust, poverty, and hate…forgiveness thrives in the world of Les Miserables. The first example of this was at the very beginning, when Jean Valjean stayed with the bishop. Valjean stole his silver…and ran off. He ends up being caught by police, but when the police questioned the bishop, he claimed to have given the silver to Valjean. Jean was confused…and the bishop claimed that with the silver, he had purchased the convicts soul, and had given it to God, and from that day forward, Valjean must be a good man. Another example of forgiveness goes two ways. Javert, in his relentless pursuit of Valjean, is captured by revolutionaries. In reward for saving the lives of a few of these revolutionaries, Valjean asks for, and gets, permission to take Javert outside, and kill him. Once outside, a small monologue occurs…and Valjean releases Javert, and lets him go free. Valjean just wanted to be left alone in peace, and hoped this act of kindness would change Javert, and make him realize that Valjean was no longer the man he was. The second way…is that in the end, after Javert finally captures Valjean, he lets him go. Since Javert had broken the law… that he loved so dearly, he kills himself shortly thereafter, by jumping into a river.
Secondly, we come to the element of Self-Sacrifice. This is also another widely used theme in Les Miserables. One such example of this element is with Valjean. He lets Marius and Cosette marry, and for a while, he seems all right with that fact. Later on however, he goes to Marius, and confesses to his past. He tells Marius his whole story, and thinks it best if he never sees Cosette again. Marius agrees…but allows Valjean the occasional visit. Only at the end, does Marius realize what a good man Valjean is…and by then it was too late. Valjean dies shortly after Marius and Cosette visit him to ask him to come back and live with them.