The Soul of Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo, a character summary

Essay by Bryan1High School, 10th gradeB, February 1997

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Jean Valjean was an alluring hero of Les Miserables for many reasons, one of which was his drastic conversion from a miserable criminal into a heroic, peaceful man. Jean Valjean seems like a three dimensional character at first. But deep inside his emotions he shows a defined viewpoint on life making him a flat character. One of the most compassionate things he did was guarding Cossette and treating her as if she were his own daughter. He is the main character, therefore there would essentially be no plot without him. His several journeys span across a length of twenty years. He is an extremely strong man. Sometimes his strength was a burden put upon him. His charisma and superhuman qualities make his character a figment of romanticism.

Valjean was born a decent human being. Unfortunately he was born into poverty, which forced him to steal in order to survive. After getting caught stealing a loaf of bread he was imprisoned.

A few years later he is caught after escaping, he is then sent to the galleys for 19 years. He later escapes from there to goto a town where he was not wanted. Still a criminal he steals some silverware from a kind priest who gave him shelter. When caught, the police ask the priest if Jean stole the silverware. To everyone's surprise the priest said it was a gift this started his conversion toward a good life. After this he tried to live a peaceful life. He started a new factory in a new town employing several. Then a man in a city nearby was arrested under the name Jean Valjean. Jean was faced with a tough choice. Rather than letting the other man take the wrap for him, he chose to admit his identity to save the...