Les Miserables, Theme (Forgiveness, Self Sacrifice, And Courage) Essay, Research Paper
?It is precisely of him that I wished to speak. Dispose of me as you please; but help me first to carry him home. I only ask that of you.? Upon examination of Les Miserables, it is clearly evident that the elements of Forgiveness, Self ? Sacrifice, and Courage are only a few of the main themes Hugo wanted to develop.
First off, is the element of forgiveness. In a book of mistrust, poverty, and hate?forgiveness thrives in the world of Les Miserables. The first example of this was at the very beginning, when Jean Valjean stayed with the bishop. Valjean stole his silver?and ran off. He ends up being caught by police, but when the police questioned the bishop, he claimed to have given the silver to Valjean. Jean was confused?and the bishop claimed that with the silver, he had purchased the convicts soul, and had given it to God, and from that day forward, Valjean must be a good man. Another example of forgiveness goes two ways. Javert, in his relentless pursuit of Valjean, is captured by revolutionaries. In reward for saving the lives of a few of these revolutionaries, Valjean asks for, and gets, permission to take Javert outside, and kill him. Once outside, a small monologue occurs?and Valjean releases Javert, and lets him go free. Valjean just wanted to be left alone in peace, and hoped this act of kindness would change Javert, and make him realize that Valjean was no longer the man he was. The second way?is that in the end, after Javert finally captures Valjean, he lets him go. Since Javert had broken the law? that he loved so dearly, he kills himself shortly thereafter, by jumping into a river.
Secondly, we come to the element of Self-Sacrifice. This is also another widely used theme in Les Miserables. One such example of this element is with Valjean. He lets Marius and Cosette marry, and for a while, he seems all right with that fact. Later on however, he goes to Marius, and confesses to his past. He tells Marius his whole story, and thinks it best if he never sees Cosette again. Marius agrees?but allows Valjean the occasional visit. Only at the end, does Marius realize what a good man Valjean is?and by then it was too late. Valjean dies shortly after Marius and Cosette visit him to ask him to come back and live with them. Another example would be that of Gavroche and his supreme sacrifice. Gavroche is really Thenardier?s son?. but he was thrown out as a little boy, because he wasn?t bringing in any money. So Gavroche befriends the revolutionaries. During one of the battles, Gavroche goes out to pick the pockets of the dead soldiers for ammunition. The soldiers fighting the revolutionaries immediately open fire?but cant hit Gavroche. Thinking he is invincible, he begins to mock the soldier?s aim. But, he speaks too soon, and on his way back, he is shot in the back, and dies. And lastly, we have the sacrifice of Eponine?one of the daughter?s of Thenardier. She is in love with Marius?unbeknownst to him. She follows him to the barricades, and while there, saves his life. She put her hand in front of a barrel aimed for Marius, and the bullet went through her hand, and into her body. Of course, this act moves Marius greatly. Eponine admits her love to him, and tells him everything she knows. Before she dies in his arms, she asks him to kiss her on the forehead when she passes on?and she says she would feel it. Marius grants her wish.
And finally, we reach the element of Courage. The main kind of courage that will be covered is emotional and physical. The first example is when Valjean must enter Paris by climbing the wall that surrounds the great city. Normally, this would be hard enough for anyone. Valjean however, has one more problem added to this; he has Cosette with him, and she is still a small child. Once he finally reaches the top, and Cosette joins him, they must jump from roof to roof to reach safety. They finally end up in a Convent, and fortunate for Valjean, it is the one where he knows the Caretaker. So, for the next few years, he and Cosette live in the convent, and have a happy life. Next?Valjean saves Marius from the barricades. During the end of the battle, Marius is wounded, the barricade is shot to pieces, and the soldiers are moving in to kill anyone who resists. Delirious due to being wounded, Marius begins to think that he should never see Cosette again. Valjean runs over to Marius, and removes him from the area, and escapes with him into the sewers. As always, Javert is hot on his trail. After walking through a sewer for the entire day, Valjean and Marius escape?to find Thenardier waiting with the key. After cutting a deal to get free, Valjean thinks he is in the clear?and then Javert shows up, and arrests him. Valjean showed great courage, and even in the face of extreme danger to himself, he still saved Marius. And finally, Valjean lets Marius and Cosette marry. He knows it will mean that he wont see as much of Cosette as he would like, and he would be lonely. But he also knows it will make her very happy, and in the end, that is all Valjean really wants for her. He does end up dieing because of loneliness in the end, but he dies knowing that he is loved, because Marius and Cosette come to him, and ask him to come back?but as stated earlier, it was already too late.
In conclusion, Les Miserables shows the main themes of Forgiveness, Self-Sacrifice, and Courage. It shows how a person?s life can be saved by a simple act of kindness?and how a life can be destroyed by the absence of happiness.