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Les Miserables

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Introduction

Jeremy Gelbart Les Miserables Jean Jacques Rousseau, a 18th century philosopher, contended that man is essentially good, a "noble savage" when in the "state of nature", which is the state of all the other animals, and the condition man was in before the creation of civilization and society, and that good people are made miserable and corrupted by their experiences in society. He viewed society as artificial and corrupt and that the advancing of society results in the ongoing unhappiness of man. Rosseau believed that "man is born free, yet everywhere he is in chains". Additionally, Rousseau argued that the advancement in science had not been beneficial to mankind, but rather he proposed that the progress of knowledge had made governments more powerful and crushed individual freedom. Rousseau was one of the first writers to attack the institution of private property, and therefore is considered a forebear of modern socialism and Communism. He also argued that the goal of government should be to secure freedom, equality, and justice for all within the state, regardless of the will of the majority. One of the primary principles of Rousseau's political philosophy is that politics and morality should not be separated. ...read more.

Middle

As a result, the bishop gave Valjean hope, and instilled in him the ability to love, care, and help others. Ultimately, Valjean couldn't have changed without the help of the bishop, and it is society that causes man to either be good or evil. Victor Hugo, through Javert, conveys the notion that in European society there is a disregard for the livelihood of the people in order to uphold the letter of the law. Javert, a police inspector, "was a compound of two sentiments, very simple and very good in themselves, but he almost made them evil by his exaggeration of them: respect for authority and hatred of rebellion; in his eyes theft, murder, all crimes, were all forms of rebellion. In his strong and implicit faith he included all who held any function in the state"(47). Javert lived " a life of privations, isolation, self-denial, and chastity; never any amusement"(48). His life had no meaning rather then to uphold the law and prosecute any perpetrators. Also, "his hatred for the gypsy race to which he belonged"(47), at points blurred and distorted the truth. One such example of this distortion of truth was in the situation where "he had seen, there in the street, society represented by a property holder and an elector, insulted and attacked by a creature who was an outlaw and an outcast. ...read more.

Conclusion

Thinking that she was a slave child, Cosette had low self-esteem and thought of herself as displeasing and ugly. Therefore, she felt as if the entire world was against her. When she was in the dark forest, "the immensity of night confronted this little creature. On one side, the infinite shadow on the other an atom"(135). Furthermore, "Forests are apocalypses; the beating of the wings of a little soul makes an agonizing sound under their monstrous vault"(136). Cosette feels entrapped in an environment of " spiritual darkness" and feels overwhelmed by the "immensity of night". She is surrounded by coldness as " she looked with despair into the darkness where nobody was"(135). She was deprived of a loving and nurturing environment and instead "the nocturnal tremulousness of the forest wrapped her about completely"(135). Hugo suggests "darkness makes the brain giddy. Man needs light; whoever plunges into the opposite of day feels his heart chilled. When the eye sees blackness, the mind sees trouble. In an eclipse, in night, in the sooty darkness, there is anxiety even to the strongest. Nobody walk at night in the forest without trembling. You feel something hideous, as if the soul were amalgamating with the shadow. This penetration of the darkness is inexpressibly dismal for a child"(137). Hugo successfully depicts the harsh and horrifying reality of women and children in European society. ...read more.

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