Illustration of the silhouetted profile of a person's face in the French flag

Les Misérables

by Victor Hugo

Start Free Trial

Why does Jean Valjean consider the silver candlesticks as "gold, in diamonds" in Les Misérables?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Gold and diamonds are more valuable materials - the most valuable, as a matter of fact. For Valjean, the candlesticks are symbolic of two things. First, the freedom from parole and persecution that was bought by the Bishop's generous "gift". Second, the deliverance of his soul to God that was brought about when the Bishop granted that gift. For a man who was accustomed to the selfish and hard edge of human nature only, the forgiveness of the Bishop and the words of love - calling Valjean his "brother" - were a weight lifted. Valjean was lead from that point to become a selfless and moral man, atoning for past sins. Therefore, the candlesticks, by saving his soul, are the most valuable thing in his life.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial