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Free Study Guide for Les Miserables by Victor Hugo: "Les Mis"

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Hugoís plot is intertwined with innumerable threads-that of the reconciliation between Marius and his grandfather, the ultimate defeat of the evil of Thenardier, the aspects of victory and defeat in the insurrection, the love affair between Marius and Cosette, and the constant chase of Javert for Valjean. Holding it all together, however, is the psychological journey of Valjean who moves from place to place, doing good for all in an attempt to free himself from his own condemnation only to find that in order to free himself he must first reveal and debase himself before one who has the power to punish him. The galleys dehumanzied Valjean.

Each new hiding place, each change of address restores some aspect of his humanity-although such restoration is often accompanied with emotional agony. He is a whole person again at the moment of his death because it is at that moment that he is able to accept the forgiveness of others and thereby realize that he has finally forgiven himself for crimes of which the medieval styled law has convicted him. He lives a martyr of the law and dies a martyr to himself.


Omniscient. Hugo leaps from one character to another as it suits his purpose, accompanying all with extensive editorial comment and address to the readers.


1. Why do the police accept Myrielís statement of Valjeanís innocence?

2. Why does Valjean condemn himself when his crime was nothing more than stealing a loaf of bread for his sisterís children?

3. Explain the irony of Valjeanís existence behind the walls of the convent.

4. What mistake does Javert make that causes him to lose Valjean just as he nearly has him cornered?

5. Why is Cosette not given more depth of character? What do the men of her family see in her?

6. Why is Javert unable to live with his spontaneous decision to let Valjean go?

7. What does Marius misunderstand regarding his fatherís devotion to Napoleon?

8. How does Mariusí idealism differ from that of the Friends of the ABC?

9. When Valjean releases Javert, why does he also give him his address?

10. Explain the irony in Gavrocheís service to the two homeless children.

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Les Miserables by Victor Hugo Free BookNotes Summary

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Ruff, Dr. Karen S. C., D. A.. "TheBestNotes on Les Miserables". . 09 May 2017