Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

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In Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, why does Jean Valjean tell Cosette that she must forgive the Thenardiers towards the end of the novel?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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By this late stage in the story, Jean Valjean has become a Christ-like figure who's put aside all his bitterness and righteous anger to embrace forgiveness. As he lays dying, he wants to pass on the Christian message to those he cares about most, so that they might learn from his mistakes and realize that life's too short to be spent hating those who've caused us harm.

Like Valjean, Cosette has every right to be bitter given the many privations she's has to endure in her short life. Most of the problems she's encountered over the years have been in some way related to the greedy, callous Thenardiers, who neglected her when she was younger, preferring to spend money on themselves...

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