Jan Valjean is a poor villager, he looks after his wife’s sister and her
children. One day he tries to steal a loaf of bread, but he gets arrested. He
goes to prison. He spends 19 years in prison.
At last one evening he releases from prison. He tries to find a place to
sleep and eat. He goes to an inn but they don’t accept a stranger that is a
prisoner. He tries to sleep in a corner. A woman suggests him to go to a house
near the bishop’s place. Jean Valjean goes there and they accept him. A
priest in the house treats him in a kind way. After they eat dinner Jean Valjean
sees some silver on the cupboard. At night, while everyone sleeps, he goes to
the cupboard and he steals the silvers. He runs away. In the morning
policemen arrive to the priest’s house. They bring Jean Valjean. The priest
immediately realizes the situation and he says that “I’ve given those silvers to
him.” This really surprises Jean Valjean and he can’t believe the kindness of
the man. He feels really complicated. The priest says that “Now I’ve bought
your soul from Devil, and have given it to God.”
These words cause Jean Valjean to change. He becomes a good,
moral and a generous person. He starts a new life and in the North region of
France he manufactures cheap jewel, he becomes richer and he hides his
past. He earns the love of the village people. He becomes the mayor of the
village. One day he meets a woman called Fantine in the police office.
Fantine has a daughter called Cosette that a family called
Thenardiers look after her. Fantine sends Thenardies money every month and
she works in a factory. However, Thenardies don’t use the money for Cosette
but for themselves. They treat Cosette in a horrible way. They treat her like a
slave. They give food to her under the table with the dogs and cats. Fantine
hides the truth about her past in the factory that she works, however a
woman that works in the same factory with Fantine finds out the truth about
her past. Consequently she loses her job. Thenardies threaten Fantine. Fantine
sells her golden hair and her fronth teeth; she buys clothes and sends them to
Thenardies to give the clothes to Cosette. But, Thenardies don’t give the
clothes to Cosette, they give them to their own daughters. Fantine becomes
a prostitute and she tries to earn money. When she meets with Valjean,
Valjean wants to help her. He promises Fantine to bring her daughter back.
However, an inspector called Javert feels suspicious about Valjean’s past. He
discovers that Valjean was a thief before and he goes to Valjean’s house.
Fantine who expects her daughter, feels really scared when she sees Javert
and she dies. Valjean feels really angry but he goes to prison one more time.
After a few years Valjean escapes from prison and he gets Cosette
from Thenardies. Cosette and Valjean become real friends and they get
along well. Valjean likes the peaceful life with Cosette. They live together
happily for a few years. However a boy called Marius loves Cosette. Everyday
in the park Marius and Cosette look at each other and they meet secretly at
Cosette’s house’s garden. Jean Valjean who doesn’t know the love between
Cosette and Marius decides to leave to France. Marius and Cosette feel
really miserable about the fact of being separated.
Marius has a grandfather and his grandfather looks after him but one
day they have an argument and Marius leaves his grandfather’s house. After
a few days Valjean sees a letter that is sent from Marius to Cosette. He
understands that Cosette is in love and he feels really angry. He feels jeolous
because the only thing he has, Cosette, loves another man. At the same
time, some of the students and employees rebel to the king and the king’s
decisions. Marius feels really sorry about losing Cosette. He thinks of a way to
marry her. Bravely, he asks permission from his grandfather. At first his
grandfather feels really happy to see him again after 4 years but, then he
doesn’t give permission to him. Marius feels really depressed; the only thing he
wants is to die. He gets into the group of rebels. Young people and the
soldiers, fight against each other. Many of the young people die. The group of
Marius captures inspector Javert. They plan to kill him after the war. Valjean
who wants to find the boy that Cosette loves, gets into the group of rebels. He
releases inspector Javert. Javert doesn’t know what to do, he feels
Marius gets shot. Valjean escapes Marius and he runs away carrying
Marius. While he is running away, he sees inspector Javert and he wants him
to help to carry Marius to his grandfather’s house. Javert helps them but he
feels even more complicated. He can’t be able to understand the kindness
and gentle nature of the man he had spent his whole life hating. He commits
In the end, Marius comes to life again he feels much better. Soon he
marries with Cosette because his grandfather and Valjean allow them to
marry. After they marry Marius tries to find the person who escaped him from
the war. After all, Marius learns that Valjean had escaped him and he feels
thankful to Valjean. Soon old Valjean dies in a happy condition.
FACTS IN 1824-1832 PERIODS IN FRANCE
SOURCE OF REVOLUTION IN FRANCE
After the death of 18th
Louis in 1824, his brother Charles 10th
the king. Charles 10th
was one of the leaders of the extreme Tory and
he had a politic vision that led him to aristocracy and the power of the
church. His policy took a lot of reaction from the liberals. The Prime Minister,
Villèle, had in the foreground, religious and financial interests. In the elections
in 1827, Martignac became the prime minister. However, Martignac couldn’t
prevent the political crisis of the royalists too; consequently one of the
extreme royalists that was Polignac became the prime
The policy of Polignac was based on clerks that had a
big part on government jobs and also aristocracy. Polignac couldn’t create
a parliament for a year and he invaded Algeria just to attract the attention
outwards to reduce the internal voltage of the country. In 1830 at the
Assembly of Representatives the majority of the assembly thought that
Polignac didn’t get the approval of Supreme Assembly. Accordingly, king
terminated the council in 25th
of July. Polignac made three
decrees. Multitude of people gave reactions to these decisions and these
decisions are called Polignac Coup.
In 1830, a civil uprising established the constitutional July Monarchy, which
lasted until 1848. In 27th
of July some barricades were established. In 28th
July city council was taken by students and employees. In 30th
Executive Council announced that Louis- Philippe was in power and Charles
was dethroned. Charles 10th
escaped to England. By these events July
Monarchy started. In these wars many students died. The July Monarchy
caused an effect in Europe too. Liberals gained strength in Europe. In Spain
and Portugal liberal constitution was made.
The period of time in France when Victor Hugo wrote the book called “Les
Miserables” was after French Revolution. After the French Revolution
bourgeois class formed and this class had a controversy with the Monarch
class to be the power in France. These quarrels caused the villagers to have a
pressure of both monarchs and the bourgeoisies. As a result, the villagers
became the unfortunate victims of poverty and social injustice. This fact is
caricatured by a villager that carries two people on his back.
INFORMATION ABOUT WRITER
French poet and author Victor Hugo was born in a time when it was the
most turbulent period of France history. His father was a general at
Napoleon’s army. Hugo lived with his father most of the time because of the
arguments between her mother and father. Hugo started to go to a Spanish
school however the children of Spanish patricians made fun of him. He was
isolated in the school.
Some of the scientists thought that the Spanish school he went caused
Hugo to admire aristocracy, but also caused him to hate it. That’s why he
chose to be a democratic liberal. After Napoleon lost his job in the empire,
Hugo’s family started to have many difficulties.
Victor Hugo couldn’t finish his higher education in the Paris Law Faculty
because of the financial trouble and he started to write poems and read
books. The only thing that escaped him from poverty after his mother’s death
was the poems that he wrote about royalty.
In 1827 he wrote a stage play called “Cromwell” and in 1830 he wrote
“Hernani”. These stage plays caused an excitement in Paris like a rebellion.
After he wrote the stage play called “Hernani” a war called the Hernani War
started between the romantics and classical literature fans. This debate
resulted by the final victory of classicism.
The first novel of Hugo was “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. In years
between 1831-1941 he wrote many poems and novels. After the 1848
revolution he became a republican he even became a candidate for
He couldn’t be elected and he went to Channel Islands by his own
wish. He wrote the book called “Les Miserables” at this island and this novel
made him really popular. He returned to Paris like a hero. He was selected to
the national assembly; however he didn’t care about politics. He carried on
writing novels and poems. In 1885 he died.
A statue of
• Javert X Jan Valjean
Javert is a detective and his only aim and ambition is to find Jean Valjean
and put him into prison. He hates Jean Valjean and he feels really angry
when he can’t find out his escapes. He is a dutiful person and when he
doesn’t do his job successfully he can’t control himself. In the whole book and
in many chapters there is always a conflict between them. At the end of the
book Jan Valjean escapes Javert from being killed, this reaction confuses
Javert. Actually this reaction is a step for ending the conflicts. But because
Javert is a prideful detective he commits a suicide.
• Marius X His Grandfather
Marius and his grandfather get along really well at the beginning but when
Marius learns the truth about his father, he wants to visit his father. When he
goes to visit him he learns that his father is dead. He feels really angry with his
grandfather because his grandfather hides the facts about his own father.
Even though, he feels really angry he doesn’t say anything to his grandfather,
but he often visits his father’s grave. Marius’s grandfather learns this and they
have an argument. This argument is the time when their conflict starts. Marius
is a prideful person, when his grandfather says horrible things to him and to his
father he goes away. This argument is a big family separation because after
these events Marius doesn’t return to his grandfather’s house for 4 years. After
all, they make up again but Marius still feels offended because according to
his opinions his grandfather acted in a very mean way to his father.
• Les Miserables X King, Liberals, Capitalist System
From the beginning of the book the most important conflict is the conflict
between poor people and liberals. The capitalist system causes poverty
stricken to put upon. The facts in that period of time are reflected in the book.
Actually this conflict still goes on in the daily life. The book, Les Miserables, is
mainly based on this conflict. Characters like Fantine, Cosette, Jean Valjean
and the others always suffered and they always had conflicts with the loyalists
• Cosette X Thenardier
At the very beginning of the book Fantine entrusts Thenardiers to look after
Cosette. However Thenardiers treat Cosette in a very bad way. They treat her
like a slave. They don’t give clothes to her. When Cosette reaches the age of
5, she becomes an unhealthy, slim and a miserable girl. Cosette obeys
everything that Thenardiers say or want but inside she hates them and this
represents the conflict. Even though she doesn’t have a chance to show her
anger, inside there is a huge conflict. She keeps her problem to oneself. She
gulps down and she tries to suppress the misery by herself.
Jean Valjean Cosette
Jean Valjean and Cosette have a very respectful
and happy relationship. They usually don’t have any conflicts. Cosette feels
thankful to Valjean, because he escaped her from the Thenardiers. After Jean
Valjean who has been an isolated and a lonely man meets Cosette he
changes too. He sees Cosette like a friend, he feels really elated to share his
feelings and opinions with her. He starts a new life by the effect of Cosette.
Jean Valjean starts to see the good parts of life.
Marius and Cosette love each other. Their relationship is more than friendship.
Marius who is not a social person, changes after he sees Cosette. He
sometimes even doesn’t believe the way he acts but because of his love he
becomes mad. He doesn’t see anything except Cosette. They have many
difficulties to see each other everyday but, in the end they marry and they
see each other everyday without any difficulties. They share many opinions
and feelings with each other.
Fantine Jan Valjean
After Jan Valjean met with the priest he started to help poor people and
when he met with Fantine he decided to help her. First Fantine was angry to
him because she had lost her job from Valjean’s factory, but when Valjean
told her that he could bring her daughter, Cosette, back Fantine became
thankful to Jean Valjean. Jan Valjean always treated, the tragic mother,
Fantine in a kind way. When Javert discovered that Valjean was a thief,
Valjean couldn’t get Cosette back at once. He always promised Fantine.
After all, Fantine died and after Fantine’s death Valjean looked after Cosette
like she was custody from Fantine.
Marius and Eponine don’t have a really close relationship but Eponine who is
the daughter of Thenardiers loves Marius desperately. However, Marius
doesn’t care about Eponine he doesn’t seem to notice her. In the war,
Eponine saves Marius’s life. She escapes Marius from death and she dies
for him. This shows the real and true love of Eponine.
1. “Now I’ve bought your soul from Devil, and have given it to God.”(pg 8)
In this situation, the priest talks to Jean Valjean. Jean Valjean was a prisoner
before and he was a mean and a dangerous person, however after he saw
the kindness of the priest he started to see the better sides of life. The priest
gave some silver spoons to Jean Valjean. By giving Jean Valjean the silvers he
directed him towards kindness, he changed Jean Valjean’s perspective.
Therefore, he means that I’ve turned your soul from evil towards goodness.
2. “He often gave money to beggars, which was unwise, because he
soon became known in the area as ‘the beggar who gives money to
In this situation, Jean Valjean gives money to beggars. Even though, he is not
a real rich man, he gives money to mendicants, and he is even more
generous than the rich people. This is actually an ironic situation because
although Jean Valjean is like a beggar he gives money to beggars.
Consequently, people start to call him the beggar who gives money to
3. “The poor man unable to understand the kindness and gentle nature of
the man he spent his whole life hating, had taken his own life by
jumping from a bridge. It was the only way he knew to escape the
confusion that was poisoning his heart.” (82)
Javert is a workaholic, strict and cold- hearted inspector. He always tries to
find Jean Valjean and he wants to send him to prison. When Jean Valjean
escapes Javert from obvious death, Javert doesn’t believe or he doesn’t
want to believe in this fact. He feels really complicated. As a result, he
commits a suicide to feel relieved and peaceful.
4. “‘To die is nothing’ he murmured. ‘But it is terrible not to live.’” (96)
In this situation, Jean Valjean talks to Marius and Cosette before his death. He
means that dying is not horrible and painful because it’s a small period of
time however; losing life is a ridiculous thing because it’s a long period of time.
Jean Valjean also feels sorry for losing his past memories. It’s difficult and bad
for Jean Valjean to lose all of his life experiences.
5. “Your mother loved you greatly and she suffered greatly. She was as
rich in sorrow as you are in happiness. That is how God balances things
out. She watches us all from above and knows what he is doing among
his splendid stars. And now I must leave you, my children. Love one
another always. There is nothing else that matters in this world except
Fantine was a devoted mother. She tried every solution just to receive money
for her daughter. After all, she was happy when she met Jean Valjean;
however she had suffered a lot. She was really weak and she became ill.
Although she fought with life for her daughter she died. In this situation, Jean
Valjean talks to Cosette and Marius. For the first time he tells the truth about
Cosette’s mother to Cosette. When he sees the happiness of Cosette he says
these words because Cosette’s and Fantine’s feelings balance each other.
The last words of Jean Valjean are “nothing matters, except love.” and the
meaning of these words are really obvious. He knows that nothing is important
than love from his whole life experiences.