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Fantine and Cosette Les Mis

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Essay title: Fantine and Cosette Les Mis

Prompt: In Victor Hugo's novel, Les Miserables, consider the fortunes of Cosette, Jean Valjean, Javert, Marius, and Thenardiers and how they have developed. Further analyze the social injustices portrayed by Hugo, through their stories.

In Victor Hugo's novel, Les Miserables, there are many social injustices that are made evident through his writing. These social injustices are made clear through the stories of the main characters. Hugo presents these issues from a wide spectrum of perspectives. The fortunes of Jean Valjean and Cosette are similar in that they both have troubled pasts but once they find love, they are content. Marius had all he needed, but he gave it up to truly experience life. Javert based his life on the justice system, when that as that disintegrated, so did he. Finally, the Thenardiers barely get by as lower class citizens, but instead of trying to improve themselves, they simply took advantage of whomever and whatever they could. Some triumphed as others fell; they all played a role in Hugo's perception of the social injustices in France.

Valjean is the most important character to portraying the different aspects of social justice in this story. He is the only character who breaks free of his social bonds, yet time and time again is brought back down. He also shows two other important things. Social justice only comes to those who are willing to make the sacrifices and take the risks to obtain it. Also, as the only character to break through society, in comparison to the number of characters in the story, he shows the immense social injustice because he is the only one who can escape society's limits. The entire book is loaded with characters that are poor and cannot escape the situations they were born into. Almost every character he meets has some limitation on what they can be by society. He encounters a drying Fantine, the rebels stifled by the government, the Thenardiers who only perpetuate the injustice in their own micro chasm. All are inhibited by the social injustice of the time, and Valjean is used to show that although social injustice ruled back then, it was not impossible to overcome. He also meant that as a lesson to readers. If a reader was experiencing social injustice that it could be overcome, despite what society does to try and hold someone down.

In the beginning of Hugo's novel the reader is introduced to an ex-convict with a troubled past that followed just behind him as, "(t)he sky was very dark; it was not simply the darkness of night" (11). He was previously, "a poor peasant,

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