Optimism and Pessimism in Les Miserables "Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise" Optimism and pessimism show up frequently in Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, especially in the well-defined characters. The first minor character that has one of these qualities is the optimistic bishop who takes Jean Valjean in. Jean Valjean himself starts the story off as a pessimist but quickly becomes a very optimistic character, like Fantine. Many characters are hard to tell, such as Javert, who most likely thought he was optimistic by trying to clean up the country. Optimism and pessimism are constantly expressed in Les Miserables and add to make the characters become more realistic and authentic.
Jean Valjean ends his 19-year prison sentence angry at society and having a pessimistic attitude. Soon he comes to the house of the warm-hearted bishop, M. Myriel, who eventually shows him that there is a good man deep down who must work to be honest once again.
The bishop's words of kindness and forgiveness sink into Valjean to forever inspire him as a good natured person. Jean thinks twice about his cruel actions and eventually becomes very optimistic. This optimism shows through the entire book as he cares for Cossette and looks at the people around him. Jean Valjean is loved by the bishop and gains back the love for everyone around him, like Cossette. "The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved." (Fantine: Book Five - Chapter Four) Through the eyes of the reader, Javert looks like a bad man out to ruin the life of Jean Valjean. Really, Javert is a good law official trying to do his job by putting a criminal to justice. Javert wants to maintain order by destroying all of societies corruptions. In his view, Javert is an optimist trying to better a crooked society; in the view of the reader he is a pessimistic man set out against Valjean. Javert is a strong example of a nationalist and antagonist who is not really that bad of a guy.
Throughout the story Fantine is repetitively taken advantage of, yet she keeps on working to have the best for her daughter, Cossette. Fantine tries everything to make money to raise her bastard daughter; she sells her hair, teeth, and even her body to make money to send to the thieving ThÃÂÃÂ©nardiers, who take care of Cossette. Fantine has to become a prostitute and sin because of other people being mean and manipulating her when she is just trying to provide for her daughter. "The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness." (Fantine: Book One - Chapter Four) Optimism and pessimism shine throughout this book in all of the major and minor characters. Some of the characters like Marius show signs of both pessimism and optimism. Marius' grandfather is a complete pessimist who looks down upon things like the revolution. Marius' character starts to conflict with his grandfather when he finds out about his real father. Marius becomes more optimistic when he falls in love with Cossette. "To love another person is to see the face of god." The book Les Miserables is neither pessimistic nor optimistic, at times it is both but it never keeps a steady direction. Hugo weaves both concepts into the story with his talented writing abilities. Jean Valjean shows optimism in a form unlike his adversary Javert who also is optimistic. The characters are very realistic and get the reader attached to their personalities, personal views and all. The optimism and pessimism in Les Miserables completes the realism of the plot and makes the characters seem believable.