Friday, February 1, 2013

Book Club Review: Les Miserables

Les Miserable Essay

There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the human soul.” --Victor Hugo

There is one spectacle grander than Les Miserables the musical, as brilliant as the entirely sung 3 hours of grandness it is, and that is Les Miserable, the novel. Les Miserables is a spectacle of a book. Its size alone is cause for one to be a bit wary of reading it, or at the very least, overwhelmed and in need of some hot chocolate to go along with your attempt. ( This is speaking from experience.) But then, there is one spectacle greater than Les Miserables the book, (even with a cup of hot chocolate), and that is finding the beauty and depth in Hugos assembly of characters, and maybe recognizing a bit of yourself in them. Just maybe.

Hugo doesn’t just describe this characters, he dramatically and beautifully potrays a vivid picture of their lives and hearts, personalities and circumstances, what brought them to those circumstances and how they grew those personalities, for better or for worse. He paints their thoughts and desires in life, as well as illistrating a particular trait-qualitty, being it good or bad, that we all come to feel in some degree at a point and time. This leads to developing a whole character and a deep character.
From the protagonist, Jean Valjean and his redemption from sin, Inspector Javert and his relentess pursuit for the Law (so much so that he completely is invisible to the gift of grace) , Cosette and her innocense, Marius and his passionate nature, Eponines unfailing love and devotion, The Thenardiers greed ( An illistration that money is the root of evil.) and Fauntines desparation. These characters, and Les Miserables in general show that beauty and light can shine in a dark world, despite those and circumstances that try to darken it, so long as there are those who have the True Light, and are willing to protect and preserve it.

Through the story and settings, rants and essays ( I understand the Battle of Waterloo, the Parisian sewers, and slang better than I ever could have wanted after the book.) There is a central theme, and that is that there is hope, even when it may seem hopeless. That there is something grander than the human soul, and that is its Creator. And through this Creator, God, we have hope, hope of redemption that can take one as miserable and ugly as depicted in the story, and turn them beautiful and bright. We in turn can share this beauty and light with the dark and miserable. Such as sacrificing our energy and money to help someone in need, or showing grace to those who do not deserve it, to those we may have had hard times with in the past. It may be grand and intentional, or small and unexpected. But we can count on and have hope that God will use our efforts as He is the one who has composed our souls. As He is the one writing a story greater in size and beauty than even the beautiful Les Miserable, this is the story of creation, and we are the characters.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:35-40a

By Elise


  1. Wow! Awesome Elise! That is amazing!

  2. Great job! Never read the book but the review was wonderful(it makes me want to go read it) :-)

  3. Elise-
    You did a fabulous job with this review- I love your writing style. Keep up the good work! And yes, hot chocolate makes everything better!


  4. Elise, this is wonderful!

    -Hannah :)