The Timeless Power of Les Miserables
The book Les Miserables, written by Victor Hugo in 1862, created a sensation throughout the world (Royston and Schlesinger 2). That impression continued through theatrical productions and most recently the musical, but the book contains greater detail and adds a deeper understanding of Hugo’s epic story than the movie or musical portray. Regretfully, few people in World society take the time to relish this masterpiece. Living in a fast paced world, many people today consider reading a time-consuming, senseless activity, and those who still read most likely choose a shorter novel rather than the 1500 page story of Les Miserables. However, the author states, “I don’t know if it will be read by everyone, but it is meant for everyone” (Royston and Schlesinger 2). This statement applies to this time period as well. The sincere characters, intriguing sub-plots, and moral theme of Les Miserables relate to people today even 130 years after its publication.
Popular characteristics that today’s reader admires coincides with the characteristics of the characters in Les Miserables. Readers look for a hero that they relate with, so the hero who possesses admirable qualities as well as demeaning faults appeals to most people. The heroes of Les Miserables, Jean Valjean and Marius, both portray average men with flaws in their character. Jean Valjean, the main character, steals from a bishop who treated Valjean decently when other people only saw him as a convict. This single act makes Valjean appear ruthless, but later in the novel, his eagerness to help people and his willingness to accept punishment makes Valjean’s error seem trivial. Valjean’s mistake secures his r…
… and moral theme. Written over 130 years ago, it remains influential even today. Although the book requires an immense amount of time to read, the outcome proves beneficial and invigorating to anyone who chooses to embark on the adventure of Jean Valjean’s life in Les Miserables.
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Grossman, Kathryn M. Les Miserables: Conversion, Revolution, Redemption. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1996.
Lee, Rob. The Barricade on the Rue de la Chanvrerie: Les Miserables – The Novel. Internet. 1997. Available: www.users.cloud9.net/~rlee/lesmis/welcome.htm.
Royston, Peter and Sarah Schlesinger. About the Novel Les Miserables. Internet. 1997. Available: www.lesmis.com/inspiration/author/aboutnovel.html.