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LES MISERABLES ESSAY (Autosaved) - Caity Lucy Mr Ledman...

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Caity Lucy Mr. Ledman Honors World Literature March 17, 2011 Les Misérables Central Theme One minuscule mistake can haunt you for the rest of your life. Jean Valjean’s mistake of stealing a loaf of bread for his starving family would follow him until he was in his grave. Victor Hugo’s main theme in Les Misérables is that you can never fully restore your reputation once it has been soiled, and there will always be a trace of it left behind. Hugo demonstrates this point as Jean Valjean struggled through having a ruined reputation by not feeling like a father, always having to be on guard for Javert, and knowing that his name was only an alibi. An issue that Jean Valjean struggled with because of his bad reputation was that he didn’t feel like a satisfactory father for Cosette. When Jean Valjean was talking to Marius about looking after Cosette he stated that “children are so weak, that anybody, even a man like me, may be their protector” (Hugo 361). Valjean knew that Cosette was weak and needed to be loved and guarded when she left the Thénardier’s, and that even the lowest of the low would have sufficed to be her protector. Valjean’s tone is full of agony and despair, because he feels that anyone could have saved Cosette, which makes him feel worthless and insignificant. Jean realizes that even a criminal easily filled the hole in Cosette’s life when she was a young girl. When Cosette was to be married, Jean thought that passing on the duty of looking after her to a more deserving man, such as Marius, would do Cosette good. The one small crime that Jean
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Valjean committed many years before made him feel like an unsatisfactory guardian to Cosette, when in reality he fulfilled his duty perfectly. This feeling of not being a good enough father, demonstrates Hugo’s main point that once your reputation is ruined it can never be restored. Later on, Jean Valjean feels similar feelings once again, although this time he is even more embarrassed and regretful of his past. When asked by Marius whether to share the news of being an ex-convict with Cosette, Jean Valjean replied “I would have told it to the universe, to all the world, that would be nothing to me. But she, she doesn’t know what it is, it would appall her”
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LES MISERABLES ESSAY (Autosaved) - Caity Lucy Mr Ledman...

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