Les Misérables is an epic tale of hope, empathy, sympathy, redemption and hate set in post-revolutionary France. Written by acclaimed author Victor Hugo, Les Misérables follows the transformation of its two main characters from criminal to honest man and from dedicated reactionary to compassionate fellow man. Written sometime between 1845 and 1862, Hugo provides a detailed look into nineteenth century France's society and politics. BY combining his story of redemption with the wrongdoings of the French government, Hugo sharply criticized French political policies and hoped his work may encourage change for the future.
Hugo describes the setting of Les Misérables with great detail. Part of the motives of Hugo were to set a tone of miserable elements for the lead character Valjean, and for anyone who lived under the poverty line in France in the early nineteenth century. Poverty was rampant during these times and with the radical "science" of reactionaries, many people were condemned for life due to a mistake they may have made early in their life. The surroundings and details described are very accurate and play a very large role in the storyline. This description of the elements faced by the poor and underprivileged was an obvious stab at the government and greatly emphasizes the story's plot of redemption.
The characters in Les Misérables, while not historically factual characters, are very easily believed and would fit perfectly into the time period. Jean Valjean, the protagonist, is an ex-convict who leaves behind a life of theft and deceit for a life as an honest man. He takes on a new persona and makes his fortune honestly and ultimately makes his goal in life redemption. Javert is the story's antagonist and is a reactionary who believes in the law and will stop at nothing to enforce the harsh laws of France. With no pity, he believes that humans are either inherently good or bad. He sees Valjean's fortunes as an injustice and chases him relentlessly....
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