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

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Victor Hugo's novel demonstrates how one man's life is changed by an act of Christian charity. Valjean was a dangerous ex-convict who stole some silver from the Bishop who had sheltered him for the night and then saved him from being taken back to the galleys by giving him even more silver in the form of candlesticks. For the rest of his life Valjean follows the teachings of Jesus as illustrated by the generosity of the Bishop. When Valjean tells Cossette, daughter of Fantine, that she should forgive the Thenardiers for cheating her mother and abusing her for years, he is passing on precepts he has lived by all his life, based on the teachings of Jesus of Nazarath. Many of these teachings are to be found in The Book of Matthew in The Bible, beginning with Chapter 5, the so-called "Sermon on the Mount." For example:

"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." (Matthew 5:44)


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Les Misérables

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