The Theme of Justice in Les Misérables

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Throughout the whole plot of Les Miserables, Hugo develops a variety of themes: love, redemption, good and evil, charity, suffering, societal inequality, justice… All of them are tied together, and every theme has its significance for the novel. However, in my opinion, the theme of justice is central in the book. It covers the development of every single character and fully reflects the whole point of the book called "Misérables" – rejected, the bottom of society; moreover, justice is also the primary goal of the French Revolution which has an important place in the plot. Hugo opposes human justice (or the lack of it) to the true divine justice and, through his characters, proves that the last one is always eventually established.

The theme of justice starts out in the very beginning when Hugo shows how unfair human society is by introducing first characters: Jean Valjean and Fantine. Valjean is almost forced to steal some bread for his sister's kids to keep them from starvation; nineteen years of galleys – read pain, hatred, and suffering – is his punishment. It is ridiculous and hyperbolic, but that's what is assigned for him by court where justice is supposed to rule. This human "justice" doesn't even stop there, it continues when the former convict looks for a place to stay overnight. Now Fantine: besides all other unbelievable hardships that she had to come through because of societal cruelty, she was unjustly convicted by Javert – police officer. As a result readers see that human justice is pointless in its ferocity: instead of correcting both Valjean and Fantine, it made one a betrayer and another – a whore. Only divine Christian justice represented by the bishop and then by Valjean himself put them on the right track.

Hugo strongly believes that, despite all the obstacles, a real, divine justice will eventually come true. His fatalism is illustrated by the stories of all the characters. Jean Valjean comes all the way from the worst – hatred,...
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