Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012 3:50:14 AM
Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo, continues to be one of the most inspirational books I’ve ever read. I originally read Les Miserables as an assignment for English and was less than pleased about the length. Myself and a few other sorry souls were burdened with 1463 pages of unabridged literature, while the rest of our classmates enjoyed the luxuries of easy reading; not to mention having books that could actually fit in their bags. We scowled, whined and groaned about our misfortune. Why us? It wasn’t fair. Then, something amazing happened: We started reading it. Instantly, we were all hooked. I was addicted to the language, engrossed in the plot. Suddenly, I was ahead on the very assigned readings I swore I would spark note.
Victor Hugo created so many wonderful and memorable characters, but the first one I fell in love with was Fantine. Her character, for me, represents a fall from grace and the true meaning of sacrifice. I admired the sacrifices that Fantine made to try to help Cossette. I honestly wasn’t expecting any of the horribly tragic yet gripping plot twists and gruesome discoveries. Les Miserables shows us a type of evil that is common, but isn’t truly recognized in the world. Most people think that there is no such thing as pure evil. They think that you can make excuses for actions people take. They think that there are always two sides to things. Les Miserables tells a story with situations that make those type of thoughts impossible. No excuses can be made for the blind greed of the Thenardiers. Despite this somewhat negative message, we also learn that heroism can come from the most unlikely sources.
Through the character Javert, Les Miserables taught me not to hate someone just because they have a different view. While Javert is the antagonist, it would be wrong to say he is bad or evil. He was just passionately working against the main character. With this, Hugo revolutionized the concept of villains. I know I can learn from and apply this to my life. I have a tendency to push people away who try to “help” me and I turn them into my enemy in my mind. Now I know that I shouldn’t get mad at them just because I don’t agree with them.
Jean Valjean represents the beauty in redemption my eyes. Sometimes it can be hard to think that every person has good in them when they constantly only ever show you their worst. Curiously, Jean Valjean had an amazing way of not only seeing, but bringing out the very best in others. I generally assume that everyone is bad until they prove otherwise; however, this book made me realize that shouldn’t always be my first assumption. There is good in bad in everyone, some people are just more upfront about their bad side than others. This book taught me that good can still come from bad people at times.