Les Mis Final Essay

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Anthony Hanahan
Mr. Scott

Sophomore English Honors 3

24 March 2012

The Turmoil of Neglect

A Chinese proverb once stated “[g]overn a family as you would cook a small fish - very gently.” A life without family allegiance may bring man down, but the way man treats this situation determines the outcome of their life. Many cases of child neglect occur each day and nothing is done to help these children. As a result, these children live their whole lives alone because they never had any family there for them. This is also shown in the novel Les Miserables through the characters Marius and Eponine. Hugo demonstrates the idea of neglect through the lack of family allegiance and shows how man can work through it. In Victor Hugo’s amaranthine classic, Les Miserables, neglect and the lack of family allegiance is portrayed as the undying force that causes man to resort to desperation to feel loved; throughout “Carnation girl, 14, found starved to 48 pounds” Mike Carter continuously advances the idea of the effects of child neglect in today’s contemporary life. We as a society need to allow more opportunities of love for neglected children; in Les Mis the quandary of neglect is resolved through finding the love of others. In Les Mis the first instance of neglect is with Marius.

Whilst dealing with being fatherless and shunned by his grandfather, Marius struggles to find love in his life. Marius is a young man who has lived most of his life with his grandfather, but as Marius ages his thoughts start to differ to those of his grandfather, Gillenormand’s. As a result, Marius becomes more hostile to Gillenormand, who eventually kicks Marius out. Marius is feeling neglect in this situation because the only family he has ever known no longer wants to see him. This feeling of neglect had Marius “ready to melt into tears. It seemed to him that he had just lost his soul” (Hugo 296). Here Marius is starting to understand the importance of family allegiance. The effects of neglect are dawning on him and he is brought to tears, showing that he needs it in his life. Without the only family he’s ever had, Marius realizes his life has come to nothing. Even when Gillenormand tries to keep in touch, Marius refuses because his pride gets in the way. Through the time that Marius lives in neglect, it is the worst time of his live. Without his family life has become a lackluster struggle that his driven him to poverty. Nothing seems good to him anymore and every day is a challenge. He is deprived of hope and happiness as a result of this neglect. Throughout the “five years Marius had lived in poverty” he realized his life was drifting to “privation… distress even” (290). The many years of neglect have taken a serious toll on Marius. The word privation proves that the lack of family may even be killing Marius. Hugo is showing that man simply cannot function without family or love in his life. Even though Marius has the option to go back with his grandfather, his stubborn and arrogant personality will not let him. Marius’ desperation, however, grows as the story progresses. He develops a love for a woman named Cosette. Marius does not know this girl, but he thinks he is in love with her. This is caused by his many loveless years of neglect. After Marius sees Cosette for the first time in six months, she appears to have “put on a mantle of beauty” (291). This is showing how the neglect has finally made Marius snap and he finds he has to love someone. The desperation for love drove Marius to essentially love the first thing he saw, this being Cosette. Hugo also demonstrates the idea of this undying neglect through the character Eponine.

Even though she belongs to a family, Eponine is one of the most neglected Thenardier children and often resorts to desperation to find someone to care for her. The lack of love from her family essentially causes Eponine to age at an exponential rate. Since she has no family to love her Eponine has become...
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