Analysis of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:Literature

Document 1

The figures of speech employed are metaphors, symbolism, and smiles. To begin with themes, Hugo emphasizes the importance of love and compassion. He says love and compassion are the best things that anyone can give to someone else and that they should always be priorized in life (Jackson, 234). Hugo’s stress on love is portrayed in Valjean”s changes from a hate a hardcore criminal into a highly valued philanthropist. Val jean finds a new sense of happiness and wholeness in learning to love and help others even if it troubles him. Hugo rebukes the ungodly status-based structure of the nineteenth century France, indicating that often, the societal makeup can change the decent harmless people into hate filled criminals and beggars.

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The three main areas that Hugo stresses on for change include: women treatment, education, and criminal justice (Grosman, 37). He portrays his message through Fantine, who represents women moved to misery and death by a heartless society. Fantine’s lover Tholomyes deserts her with an illegitimate child hence her status is ruined and her determination to conceal this are frustrated by the fact that she isn’t educated. Fantine entrusts the transcriber to write her letters who in turn tells her secrets to the whole town. Hugo quotes God as the epitome of everything. Some characters in the novel such as Cosette, Val jean, Marius, and Enjolras express their faith by continually praying and referring to God due to their vast knowledge in religious issues.

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Through religion, Bishop Myriel and the nuns at petit- picpus convent are able to motivate Val jean to do what is good and just. Hugo also points out the nonbelievers in the society. He constantly mentions Voltaire, a well-known atheist, who doesn’t believe in the righteousness of the religion but rather in the kind, humanity, spirituality in God and doing good things. Valjean is the star of the story. He is an amazing person who draws unusual efforts to not only survive but also to shield and support those weaker than him. He portrays a Christ-like character in being the scapegoat. He initially considers himself a victim but eventually notices his mistake and becomes remorseful and meek. His end is brutal since he is on the verge of social revolution.

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A smile is an analogy of relating different things to show a relationship. A typical smile is when Hugo portrays Monseigneur Bienvenus’s, the Bishop of Digne’s characterization. Even though great sums of money passed through his hands as he collected, he handed all of it to those in need. To him, money was like water on a dry soil. He likens money to water on dry soil that no matter how much water you pour on dry soil, it still remains dry. Use of metaphor is also manifested through the quote “a prodigious light shines, and the gaping jaws of force recoil; the lion which is the army comes to face with the erect and tranquil figure of the prophet, which is France” which describes existing clash between the army and citizen revolutionaries (Behr, 1022).

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