Les Misérables Literature Guide

Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo, articulates the misery of the poor in 18th century France. The protagonist of Les Misérables, Jean Valjean, is in exile from the world of men because of the desperate crime he committed in his youth. Liberated from prison, Valjean hides his identity and becomes a successful man, as charitable as he is rich and powerful. His altruism leads him to promise Fantine, a dying prostitute, that he will seek out her exploited young daughter Cosette after her death. The ensuing love between "father" and "daughter" (Cosette) is miraculous, redeeming Valjean and bestowing happiness on his otherwise grim life.
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