Essay on Rise Above the Misery in Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

As the era of literature slowly declines, the expert critiques and praise for literature are lost. Previously, novels were bursting at the seams with metaphors, symbolism, and themes. In current times, “novels” are simply short stories that have been elaborated on with basic plot elements that attempt to make the story more interesting. Instead of having expert critical analysis written about them, they will, most likely, never see that, as recent novels have nothing to analyze. Even books are beginning to collect dust, hidden away and forgotten, attributing to the rise of companies such as Spark Notes. An author deserves to have his work praised, no matter how meager and the masses should have the right to embrace it or to reject it. As much of this has already been considered, concerning Les Miserables, the purpose of this paper is to compare, contrast, and evaluate Victor Hugo’s use of themes and characterization in his novel, Les Miserables.Rife with different themes in every storyline, Les Miserables entices critics to examine the numerous themes and speculate as to their meanings. These themes that they elicit from the text include, but are not limited to, fate dictating the course of one’s life, good works saving every soul, evil being the root of all of the problems of humanity, society weighing a person down, misfortune being the sole cause of faults in a person, love being the meaning of life, and the ability of love to alter a person. Many who read the novel are enamored with the many themes and agree that they are all explicitly explored. First, according to the critic Reeves, one can try to shape his own destiny all that he wants by “[chiseling] the ‘mysterious block’” from which his fate is made. However, no matter…

…tzgerald. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1983.

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Hugo, Victor. Les Miserables. Trans. Julie Rose. New York: Modern Library, 2009. Print.Lewes, G. H. “Victor Hugo’s Last Romance.” Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism. Eds. Laurie Lanzen Harris and Sheila Fitzgerald. Vol.3. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1983.Moss, Joyce, and George Wilson. Literature and Its Times. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 1997. Print.

Napierkowski, Marie Rose, ed. “Les Miserables Criticism.” Novels for Students. Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale, 1999. 231-253. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 13 Feb. 2014.

Reeves, Bruce D. “Les Miserables.” Masterplots. 4th ed. Pasadena: Salem Press, 2010. Literary Reference Center. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.Swanson, Roy Arthur. “Les Miserables.” Magill’s Survey of World Literature. Ed. Steven G. Kellman. Vol. 3. (2009):1-8. Literary Reference Center. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.


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