Les Miserables: a Summary

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Jacob Crandall
November 21, 2011
Comp II

Les Miserables: A Summary

Imagine a world where your legal system is so unjust, you would be sent to prison for 20 years for stealing an single apple. This is the world of Jean Valjean in the adaption of Victor Hugo’s classic play, Les Miserables. This story is set during the early 18th century in France, and the story is full of sociological issues, some of which are still prevalent in our society today.

The first major sociological issue that I noticed was extensive punishment for such a small crime. This is a world where the poor, forced into thievery to survive, are on the same level as murderers. The idea of just punishment is unimportant and causes the law enforcement and courts to appear just as criminal as the people they are convicting. This is not an issue we deal with on the same level as was prevalent during the 18th century, but there are still some instances where our legal system fails and someone is wrongly convicted, forced to serve time that he/she did not deserve. This is an issue that any society will deal with as long as they have a legal system seeking justice. This is due to the fact that men are and cannot be perfect, and when one man judges other men, mistakes will inevitably be made.

Another issue that I observed was discrimination. In this movie, I did not notice the same racial discrimination that we can see in today’s society, however, discrimination was still very much alive. The major focus of discrimination during the 18th century was directed towards the poor and their respective occupations. The common workplace for the majority of poor citizens was factories where they would be paid barely enough to purchase food for the day. It was literally impossible for someone in that position to change classes or even find a better occupation then they one they currently had. Prostitutes were also treated poorly, even for their unaccepted form of occupation. There was a scene in the...