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Les Misérables | Part 3, Book 2 : Marius (The Grand Bourgeois) | Summary



Introduced in this book is an old bourgeois from the previous century, one Monsieur Gillenormand, over 90 years old in 1831, who walks upright, has all of his teeth, and has only recently given up women. He is "superficial, hasty, and easily angered," and he beats people with his cane when they anger him, as people did in the previous age. His unmarried daughter, over 50 years old, lives with him, along with his grandson (the son of his daughter by a second marriage), Marius Pontmercy. He adores his grandson but is very stern with him. The boy's mother died young, at age 30. She married for love—a soldier who "served in the armies of the Republic and the Empire." The narrator also says "M. Gillenormand worshipped the Bourbons and held 1789 in horror."


Marius's grandfather, Monsieur Gillenormand, is a throwback to an earlier period, a well-to-do gentleman of the middle class with a lot of class pride and pretension and love for the monarchy. He has outlived his time, in that he hates Republicanism or notions of liberty for all the classes. Since Napoleon was a product of that revolutionary period and spread some of the ideas spawned by the French Revolution, he also hates Napoleon.

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