“Man Made Evil by an Unjust Society”
Social Injustice in Les Miserables
Social injustice is not a new concern by any means. Victor Hugo’s 19th century novel, Les Miserables, addresses social injustice caused by both society and the legal system. This novel tells the story of a man condemned due to attempting to steal a loaf of bread for his starving family. The story follows this man as he recreates his new life, for his old was brutally taken away from him by an unscrupulous nation. Through this tragic journey, Hugo goes into details about the obscene monstrosities of destitution in order to unveil the execrable environment, while bequeathing optimism to those who venture for virtue. Major character, Jean Valjean, falls victim to the tainted legal system and their corrupt, atrocious ways. When released, Valjean becomes ecstatic thinking about freedom, until he realizes that even though he was released from prison, he will never be free: “He had believed in a new life. He soon saw what sort of liberty that is which has a yellow passport” (Hugo 25). The legal system gives freed convicts the impression that their lives will return to normal, when in reality, the legal system has branded them for life. The government not only takes away 19 years of Valjeans’ life, but any and all respect society once had for him. Unfortunately, the governments’ unjustness not only preys on Valjean, but also Fantine. Fantine receives no help from the legal system, only because she has a child out of wedlock and “is forced to become a prostitute in order to support her daughter” (Les Miserables n.pag.). Because Fantine has an illegitimate child, the government forces her to take drastic measures for money, causing her to become a prostitute. The government never gives Fantine a chance; when they see her with no wedding ring and a child, the government disregards her and her needs. In addition to chasing Valjean for countless years over a stolen coin, Javert cannot live with...
Cited: Hugo, Victor. Les Miserables. Fawcett Books: New York, 1982. Print.
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