history may also provide suitable themes for drama and that a bourgeois or a

History may also provide suitable themes for drama

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history may also provide suitable themes for drama and that a bourgeois or a bandit may also sometimes possess enough nobility to transform a stage. These precepts he exemplified in his own plays, some of which are in prose as well as in verse and which generally deal with some dramatic episode from European history. The subjects of Marie Tudor and Lucrezia Borgia are self-explanatory. Hernani, which quite literally caused a riot at its first performance, sets at odds a noble Spanish bandit and Charles V, Emperor of Spain; in Ruy Blas, a valet, through the love of a queen, temporarily becomes head of state. We cannot today appreciate Hugo's plays as wholeheartedly as did his contemporaries. His plots, with their disguises and recognitions, seem a little too melodramatic; his daring adventurers and his perfect, passionate, unattainable heroines are two- dimensional. Nevertheless, particularly in their historical accuracy of incident and decor, they represent a great stride toward realism in the drama; in the stage's own terms, some of them are still "marvelous theater." Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Jean Valjean is an ex-convict who was imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread. Upon his release, he finds that he is treated like an outcast everywhere he goes, until the Bishop Myriel helps him to create a new life for himself. He adopts the name Monsieur Madeleine, and becomes a successful factory owner. However, he is hunted by the dogged police officer Javert, who believes that no criminal can ever truly reform. Fantine is an impoverished but beautiful young woman who falls in love with a pompous young student, who eventually abandons her shortly after she gives birth to their child. Fantine names this daughter Cosette, and leaves her in the care of the Thénardiers in order to find work. The Thénardiers treat Cosette cruelly, and charge Fantine high sums of money for the care of her daughter. After her illegitimate child is discovered, she loses her job at Valjean's factory and is forced to turn to prostitution. Javert takes her into custody after she assaults a young man who shoves a snowball down her blouse. Valjean intervenes and brings Fantine to a hospital; she is deathly ill after the snowball incident. Valjean promises Fantine that he will take care of her daughter Cosette, but this task is interrupted when Valjean hears that a man named Champmathieu has been mistakenly identified as him, and faces life imprisonment as a recidivist convict. After much soul-searching, Valjean testifies in front of the court that he is actually Valjean. Fantine dies, and Valjean is imprisoned once again. Valjean escapes prison after falling from a rope, and he rescues Cosette from the wicked Thénardiers. They start a new life in Paris that is soon interrupted by Javert, who has discovered that Valjean escaped from prison alive. The two take shelter in the Petit- Picpus convent, and Cosette grows into a young woman.

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