Les Miserables

Topics: Les Misérables, Jean Valjean, Virtue Pages: 2 (509 words) Published: January 2, 2014

Les Miserables: Analysis of the Characters

Philosophy 1C

December 06, 2013

Four characters from the 1998 film Les Miserables are analyzed. Jean Valjean, Fantine, the Bishop, and Inspector Javert are the characters for this study. Each character’s moral decision making will be examined. Using the consequentialist and nonconsequentialist theories discussed in the book Ethics: Theory and Practice, a particular theory will be matched to each character with supporting details.

The main character, Jean Valjean, is a bitter paroled convict that served 19 years on a chain gang. At the beginning of the film, Valjean is taken in and fed by the bishop. During the night he steals from the bishop. Here, the character is displaying the ethical belief of personal ethical egoism. Valjean believed the he should act in his own self-interest, but makes no claims about what other ought to do (Krasemann, 2012). Valjean is later caught and his view of the world changes after a kind hearted bishop shows him forgiveness. Nine years later, Valjean, under a new identity, is a successful businessman and appointed town mayor. He shows generosity and compassion for all. Valjean adopts a new moral ethic, Aristotle’s Nichomachean ethics. Valjean’s new identity is based on the element of the Nichomachean ethic that emphasizes the good or virtuous character of human beings rather than the acts, consequences, feelings, or rules (Krasemann, 2012).

Fantine is the hard working mother of Cozette. Cozette is under the care of another family while Fantine works in the tile factory. Fired for having a child out of wedlock, she is forced into prostitution to pay for her daughter’s medicine and care. Fantine’s actions reflects act utilitarianism in that she believed her choice of prostituting herself was moral because it would pay for Cozette’s medical and living expenses (Krasemann, 2012).

Devoted to helping his fellow man, the Bishop helps...

Cited: Krasemann, J. T. (2012). Ethics: theory and Practice, 11th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.
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