Les Miserables

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In Les Miserables, Victor Hugo portrays human nature in a neutral state. Humans are born with neither good nor bad instincts, but rather society affects our actions and thoughts. Hugo portrays the neutral state of mind through Jean Valjean and Cosette. The two extremes of good and evil are represented through Thénardier and the bishop. Good and evil coexists in the society and affects Valjean and Cosette. It is the two extremes of good and evil that dictate the lives of Valjean and Cosette. The bishop represents charity and love. Everything he's ever had, he gave to charity. When the bishop first met Valjean, he said, "You need not tell me who you are. This is not my house; it is the house of Christ. It does not ask any comer whether he has a name, but whether he has an affliction. You are suffering; you are hungry and thirsty; be welcome. And do not thank me; do not tell me that I take you into my house..... whatever is here is yours." (pg. 15-16) The bishop didn't look at him as a convict; he looked at him as a fellow brother. Later, when the bishop found out that Valjean stole his silver, he wasn't mad, but offered all of his silver to Valjean saying, "Don't forget that you promised me to use this silver to become an honest man." Thénardier, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of the bishop. He represents the corruptive nature of society. He's the one that changes people for the bad. An example of how Thénardier represents greed and evil is how he mistreated Cosette when he was taking care of her. He made her wash and clean, while letting his kids run around and play. Thénardier took advantage of Cosette's mother, Fantine. He kept on asking her for more money, when in fact he didn't really need it. When it was cold, Thénardier told Fantine that her daughter was cold and they needed money for a wool skirt. This was just an excuse to get money. Also, Thénardier billed Fantine forty francs to cure a fever that Cosette had supposedly contracted (pg. 56)....
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