Suggested Essay Topics
1. Discuss the internal struggle which haunts Jean after his release from prison. What forces influence the path he ultimately decides to travel?
2. Discuss the injustice of Jean Valjean’s sentence. How does Victor Hugo use this character to protest the treatment of prisoners and convicts?
3. What social forces prompt Fantine to leave her child with the Thénardiers? Why does she think that she is doing the best possible thing for her child?
4. By the end of the first section, the reader develops a great deal of sympathy for Jean in spite of the fact that he is an ex-convict. How does the author use Jean’s good deeds to develop him into a heroic character?
1. Discuss the ways in which Jean depends on his great physical strength to help him escape from the Orion and from Javert.
2. Javert is primarily a symbol of law and order. Contrast the author’s development of this character with his development of the character Jean Valjean.
3. Comment on the settings the author uses in this section of the novel. How are they used to contribute both to the development of the characters and the advancement of the plot?
4. Discuss the relationship that develops between Cosette and Jean Valjean. What fulfillment does each find in the relationship, and why is Jean willing to risk his freedom for it?
1. M. Gillenormand is a bourgeois gentleman and a royalist. His son-in-law, George Pontmercy, is a military hero and a revolutionary. Discuss the political differences which separate M. Gillenormand and George Pontmercy and the ways in which these differences affect the way they treat each other and other people.
2. Discuss the title of the novel, and show how Hugo has created characters to support his definition of...
(The entire section is 592 words.)