A drawing of Jean Valjean and Cosette
The story follows former prisoner Jean Valjean, who, after being released from the watchful eye of police officer Javert, is unable to find work because of his status as an ex-convict. He eventually steals from a local church, but when apprehended, the priest claims that Valjean was given the valuables. This triggers a change in Valjean, and he constructs a new identity for himself as a pillar of society and a local businessman. Years later, he adopts a young girl named Cosette, whose mother Fantine, a former employee of his, became a prostitute and died a horrible death in the gutters after being fired. As the years progress and the French Revolution begins to foment, a grown Cosette falls for a passionate revolutionary named Marius. This becomes a love triangle as Éponine is in love with him as well.Javert begins to close in again on Valjean's secret past.
The revolt begins and barricades are built across Paris. During the first skirmish against the soldiers, Éponine takes a bullet for Marius and dies in his arms, confessing her love. Valjean joins the revolution to guard Marius. By dawn, the soldiers are close to ending the revolution, storming the students' barricade and executing everyone except Marius, who is badly wounded, and Valjean, who escape into the sewers. Valjean finds Javert waiting for him, ignoring his nemesis's threats. Javert, morally confused by the mercy of Valjean, commits suicide by throwing himself in the Seine. Marius recovers but is traumatised by the death of his friends.
Marius and Cosette are reunited but Valjean, concerned his presence would threaten their happiness, makes plans to leave and reveals his story to Marius, who promises to remain silent. Cosette and Marius marry and find out where Valjean is hiding. Cosette and Marius reunite with the dying Valjean at the convent. Valjean gives them letters of confession before dying peacefully, and his spirit is guided away by the spirits of Fantine and the Bishop to join the spirits of Eponine the students in the afterlife.
The charachtersThe cast of the movie adaptation
Imprisoned for stealing bread, Valjean is a good man turned bad by circumstances. When he meets a generous priest, he begins to turn his life around, becoming a successful businessman and later taking in the lost child Cosette. Valjean is intelligent and resourceful, and notable for his incredible physical strength.
A young and beautiful woman from an impoverished background, Fantine is impregnated and abandoned by the man she loves. In order to support her daughter Cosette, she takes up a number of low paying manual jobs, and finally resorts to prostitution. She dies from illness.
A narrow-minded police officer, Javert is completed focused on upholding the law and punishing every kind of criminal activity. He does not believe that one can reform oneself from a criminal background, and he pursues Valjean relentlessly.
The daughter of Fantine, Cosette is abandoned by her father shortly after her birth. Fantine was forced to leave her daughter with the Thénardier family, who use her as a servant. Valjean rescues her and raises her as his daughter. A gentle and pure young woman, she falls in love with Marius.
The son of a war hero and grandson of an eccentric member of nobility, Marius is an intelligent and idealistic young man. He falls in love with Cosette and fights on the barricades.
The eldest daughter of the Thénardiers, Éponine enjoys a pampered childhood but an impoverished adolescence. Her parents teach her to steal and cheat, but she is redeemed by her deep love for Marius.
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A little bit of historyVictor Hugo
Les Miserables is novel written by Victor Hugo in 1862. It is considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century. Beginning in 1815 and following the events during the 1832 June Rebellion in Paris, the novel follows the lives and interactions of several characters. The novel elaborates upon the history of France and examins the nature of law and grace.
Les Miserables timeframe is one of economic strife, famine, and disease. Despite all of the revolutions and changing political parties, the lower classes still have little voice in society. The story has become very popular throughout time and has been made into various movies and even a musical.