The epic novel “Les Miserables” was created by Hugo for thirty years. The French writer put two strictly opposite images of his era, the convict and the righteous, in the basis of the plot, not in order to show their moral difference, but in order to unite them into the single essence of Man. Hugo wrote his novel intermittently. In the beginning, the plot twists and turns of the work were created, then it became overgrown with historical chapters.
The main goal of the “Les Miserables” French writer saw showing the way, which passes as a separate person, and the whole society “from evil to good, from wrong to just, from lies to truth. The starting point is matter, the final point is the soul. ” The central connecting image of the novel – convict Jean Valjean – embodies the inner realization of this idea.
The most “rejected” hero of the work goes through a difficult path of moral formation, which began for him with an unexpected meeting with the righteous Bishop of Dinh – seventy-five-year-old Charles Miriel. The pious old man was the first person who did not turn away from Jean Valjean, learning about his past, sheltered in his house, treated as an equal, and not only forgive the theft of silverware, but also presented two silver candlesticks, asking to use them with for the poor. In the hardened labor and constant injustice of the convict’s soul, an internal revolution took place, leading him to the first step of moral formation – he began to lead an honest and pious way of life, taking up industrial production and taking care of his workers.
The second turning point in the fate of Jean Valjean was the case of Champmathieu. Rescuing a person unknown to him from hard labor and revealing incognito was given to the hero by hard internal struggle – Jean Valjean suffered all night long thinking about whether he should risk the well-being of the whole region for the sake of the life of one person, and whether it will be testify of his excessive pride. To meet the fate of the hero is sent, without taking any decision. He speaks his name at the court hearing, having seen in Champmathieu a common, close-minded old man who has no idea about what is happening around him.
The most tragic for Jean Valjean is the third stage of his spiritual formation, when he refuses Cozette. He loves his daughter called all-consuming love, combining an infinite variety of feelings (love for daughter, sister, mother and, possibly, Woman), he goes to the barricade of the street Chanvreri, where he saves from the death of Marius – the very Marius whom he hates with fierce hatred so that later it’s not just to give him the most precious thing he has – Cosette, but also to tell about who he is.
The life of Jean Valjean begins after the release from prison. In the beginning, he learns to do good to people, then to sacrifice himself in the name of truth, then to give up what he loves most in the world. Three refusals – from material wealth, from oneself and from earthly attachments – purify the soul of Jean Valjean, making it equal to the righteous Bishop Dean and the God himself. The former convict dies, reconciled with his soul, as befits a real Christian.
The complete opposite of Jean Valjean in the novel is the police inspector Javert. Strictly following the letter of the law, he sees neither true kindness, nor philanthropy around him as long as it does not concern him. The unexpected release, bestowed upon him by his worst enemy, knocks out Javert from his usual rut of honoring justice. He begins to think about what is in the world something more than the laws invented by people. Javert so sharply sees the existence of God, that his soul, tormented by sins, does not have time to resist the revealed abyss of truth, and he commits suicide.
From the time of Jean Valjean’s release from prison and eighteen years past his death. The artistic time of the novel is not limited to the framework of October 1815 – the beginning of the summer of 1833. Hugo periodically plunges the reader into the past, telling about the Battle of Waterloo (June 18, 1815), about the history of the Small Picpus Monastery, about the development of the Parisian sewers, then about the future, when he talks about the 1848 Revolution that grew out of the 1832 uprising.
The main scene of the novel is Paris, the point of intersection of all plotlines is Gorbot’s shack, in which Tenardier arranges an ambush for Jean Valjean. The main and minor heroes of the novel, related to each other by kinship and eventual ties, do not always know about them: for example, Cosette does not recognize his former guardian in Tenardier, Gavroche does not recognize his two younger brothers, Jean Valges, Tenardier and Javert alternately, not recognizing each other friend The latter circumstance serves as the basis for the formation of many plot intrigues.
The adventurous beginning of the “Les Miserables” is primarily associated with the image of Jean Valjean. The psychologism of the novel is also manifested in this character. Cosette and Marius are the heroes of the romantic warehouse: their characters remain almost unchanged throughout the story, but their main feature is love for each other. The heroes of the Parisian bottom – the Tenardier family, the gangster community “The Cock’s Hour”, the street boy Gavroche – are associated with the naturalistic core work. In The Les Miserables, Hugo is equally good at transmitting the inner experiences of the heroes, as well as a detailed description of the premises, buildings, streets, and landscape panoramas.
The love theme in the novel is closely connected with the theme of death: the loving Marius Eponina invites him to the barricades, preferring to see the hero dead than belonging to another woman, but eventually gives up and dies, saving the life of the beloved; Marius goes to the barricades because he cannot live without Cosette; for the same reason, Jean Valjean leaves after him. As befits the romantic characters, the characters have little contact with reality – they are at the mercy of their feelings and do not see other ways of developing the situation, except to “be with your loved one” here and now or die.
Heroes “rejected” by society finally leave him at the time of the highest internal upsurge of the lower classes: the former church warden Mabeuf loses his life, hoisting the banner of the Revolution on the barricade, Gavroche dies, collecting cartridges for the rebels, “Friends of the ABC” die for the sake of a bright future for all mankind.