The portrayal of children and childhood in a fictional work could be considered one of the defining aspects when it comes to determining the work's genre. Hugo's Les Miserables falls, in that sense, mostly into the genre of realism. While the fiction of previous ages often depicted the world as it should be, not as it was, Hugo attempted the opposite.
When there are problems in a society, it affects everyone, though children are often impacted more than anyone else due to their vulnerability. Hugo spares none of the child characters in the novel from life's harsh lessons, although he gives Cosette a remarkably better ending than the others.
The presence of children symbolizes the corruption of innocence in a society that is suffocating under its issues. Les Miserables is known, after all, for the theme of injustice. Valjean's harsh punishment, Fantine's fate as a single mother, Cosette's misery, and countless other tragedies are only made bleaker by the fact that, while Hugo allowed himself...
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