Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

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Sample Essay Outlines

The following paper topics are based on the entire novel. Following each topic is a thesis and sample outline. Use these as a starting point for your paper.

Topic #1
Discuss the ways in which Jean Valjean finds redemption in the course of the novel. How is Jean Valjean an honorable man?

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: Through his actions, Jean Valjean seeks to redeem himself for past crimes and becomes an honorable man.
II. Jean’s decision to seek redemption
A. Past crimes
B. The influence of the bishop.

III. The path to redemption
A. Jean resurrects M—— sur M—— and becomes a respected citizen
B. The rescue of Fauchelevent
C. The Champmathieu affair
D. Jean loves and cares for Cosette
E. Acts of charity
F. Jean spares Javert
G. Jean rescues Marius

Topic #2
How does Hugo express human misery in Les Misérables?

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: Both the unfortunate and the infamous experience misery in the novel.

II. The misery of man.
A. Jean Valjean.
B. Thénardier.

III. The misery of women.
A. Fantine.
B. Thénardier’s wife.

IV. The misery of children.
A. Eponine and Azelma.
B. Cosette.

Topic #3
Discuss the bravery and courage of the characters in the novel.

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: Hugo’s characters exhibit courage in battle and in their daily lives.
II. Bravery in the barricade.
A. The rebels fight although they know they cannot win the battle.
B. Marius saves the barricade and risks his life to help Gavroche.
C. Gavroche dies collecting cartridge boxes
D. Eponine intercepts a bullet meant for Marius.
E. Jean spares Javert.

III. The courage of Jean Valjean.
A. The rescue of Fauchelevent.
B. Jean’s testimony saves Champmathieu
C. The risk of caring for Cosette
D. Saving Marius

Topic #4
How does Hugo portray women in the novel? How is this a reflection of the historical context of the novel?

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: Women are dominated by the men in their lives and treated as second-class citizens in the novel. None of the women in the novel achieve true...

(The entire section is 514 words.)