Victor Hugo in this novel tries to prove the redeeming importance of true love for human beings. How does he do it?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Hugo is able to demonstrate the redemption intrinsic to true love through showing how individuals can be saved through it.   Hugo is able to demonstrate that love enables individuals to not take the form of the world around them.  They can become the social change they hope to see through themselves and the redemptive power of love.  Valjean is one such example.  Hugo constructs his character as one who has seen the very worst of society. Unfair treatment, poverty, and social maligning are all aspects of Valjean's being.  Rather than take the form of what society has indicated someone like him to be, Valjean is transformed by love.  It is here where his redemption is present.  It is love, first shown by the Bishop to him, and then shown by Valjean to others in different settings, that enables him to be changed.  Love becomes the element in which individuals are redeemed and through which social change becomes possible.  Hugo uses Valjean's example of sacrifice through love as representative of how change is possible.  The students who seek social change do so through self- sacrifice and the love of idealism.  For Hugo, the redeeming importance of true love enables individuals to envision and create what can be from what is, ensuring that love drives individuals to be different from the world around them and not be victim to it.  In constructing characterizations like this, Hugo is able to display and showcase the redeeming importance of love for human beings.


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