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Les Miserable

             Victor Hugo made it so that the characters in Les Miserables progressed throughout the novel. The theme "progress" can be seen and used widely. Three main characters, Jean Valjean, Cossette, and Javert expressed positive and negative forms of growth.
             Jean Valjean began the story as an ex-convict who was searching for food and shelter after working in the galleys for sixteen years. Unfortunately, he failed to receive compassion from any lodging, or home. While he was wandering through the streets after been rejected so many times, "he came to the prefecture then to the seminary. On passing by the cathedral square he shook his fist at the church" (22). Through this discrete action, it was clear how he had felt toward the church. The church, we learned was a representation of his resentment toward everyone and everything around him (due to his past experienced of suffering). After he found shelter within the Bishop's lodging, he expressed his gratitude for excepting him, and began to tell stories of suffering in the past. Here, the reader would assume this encounter and expression would be the end of Jean Valjean's criminal actions, as did the Bishop when he said, "you have left a place of suffering. But listen, there will be!.
             more joy in heaven over the tears of a repentant sinner- (28). Valjean could have taken this as good advice, or a warning, but it didn't stop him stealing the Bishop's candlesticks later on. Predictably, Valjean is caught. He was brought to the Bishop to confront his victim of theft, but the Bishop chose to deny Valjean's theft, and went along with Valjean's alibi of how the candle sticks were given to him by the Bishop. Valjean's turning point of growth begins after the last words the Bishop shares with him. "You belong no longer to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I am buying from you. I withdraw it from dark thoughts, and from the spirit of perdition. I give it to God!" (39) The reader is aware of the obvious change in Valjean's life, as his identity was changed twice (Monsieur Madeline, and Monsieur LeBlanc) to hide away from his past convict life.

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