Reaction Paper on Les Miserables

Table of Content

Les Miserable is a story about Valjean, a man who was sent to prison for stealing a loaf of bread. He was paroled and released from prison after 20 years, but society discriminates him from work, shelter, and food because he is an ex-convict. However, Myriel, a priest helped him live a new life and Valjean, under a new name, had become successful. Soon his archenemy Javert, found and discovered his secret identity. Meanwhile, Valjean meet Fontine who was forced to a life of prostitution because she was fired from Valjean’s company.

She soon died and Valjean felt guilty and pledged to take care of Fontine’s daughter, Cosette. The story revolved about how Javert chases Valjean, while Valjean protects Cosette. They soon end up in the middle of a revolution where Cosette fell in love with Marius, one of the rebels. Javert ends up being a prisoner of the rebels and Valjean releases him. When the revolution was over, Javert had finally caught Valjean but he cannot arrest him because he owes his life to the latter. Javert commits suicide afterwards.

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Cosette and Marius got married and when Valjean was about to die, he gave a letter to Cosette explaining the death of her mother and asking for forgiveness. Introspection and Reflection – Secular Law vs. Moral Order Les Miserable is not just another story filled with romance, action, and adventure. If you look deeper, the movie reflects the values and beliefs of the French society in the olden times and Victor Hugo, in writing the novel, tried to insert some of his political beliefs into the story. He had perfectly personified the conflict between secular law and moral law.

I believe that Police Inspector Javert is the personification of the secular law while Priest Myriel symbolizes moral order. Please take note that Priest Myriel does not in any way symbolize Catholism or Religion but the moral order of humanity in general. Valjean personifies every man who is in conflict between the secular law and moral order. An example of this conflict is when Valjean steals a loaf of bread to feed to his family. Was his act proper in feeding his family at any cost or is the act of stealing wrong under any circumstance? In the movie, it would depend on who you ask, Javert or Myriel.

If you ask the former, he would consider you as a criminal without any regard to mitigating circumstances while the latter will tell you that the good of keeping people from starving would outweigh the trespass of theft. Hugo did this to point the fallibility of secular law. Javert, like the law itself, lacks humanity. He fails to empathize with another man’s situation in life. He believes that the law can never be wrong and must be followed to the letter. Javert puts the law above his own humanity that is why his world shatters when he felt compassion for Valjean which leaves him distraught and suicidal.

Introspection and Reflection – Anarchy, Democracy, and Monarchy My Constitutional Law professor often quotes from our class that “too much power leads to dictatorship, but too much freedom leads to anarchy. ” This quotation is best exemplified in the movie by the French Government and the student rebels. There was instability in power because France was ruled by a king and we all know from Sir John Dalberg-Acton that “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. ” However, a solution was presented by Hugo in his story. It was the barricade.

The barricade is the wall that guards against government power and limits the freedom of individuals. For me, the barricade represents democracy. The barricade keeps anarchy and dictatorship at bay. However if the government (1st battle in the movie when the army attacks the camp) or the people (2nd battle when the child picks up ammunition) cross the barricade, conflicts would ensue because it destroys the order of society. Introspection and Reflection – Eros, Philos, and Agape Different characters in the movie displayed the 3 types of love experienced by man, namely Eros, Philos, and Agape.

The movie highlighted the different emotions and consequences of each of the three. Eros also known as “erotic love” is a strong feeling towards another person of the opposite sex. It is the attraction based on a person’s qualities, features, and personality. In the movie, Eros can be seen when the prostitutes seduced different passersby to have sex with them. It was also shown through Fontine who was a young girl who fell in love and became pregnant. The inn keeper, Thénardier, used Eros to hypnotize men into coming into his inn and steal their belongings.

Over relying on “Eros” or emotions without a balance of logic and reason is a sure path to failure. Philos also called “friendly love” is the type of love born out of bonding and experience. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity. However, it is not perfect and could be easily destroyed by problems and hardships. It was shown in the movie by Marius (the rich lad who joined the revolution) and Enjolras (the radical student leader) who treat each other as blood brothers fighting for a common cause but was challenged when Marius fell in love with Cosette.

It was also shown when the revolution was challenged by the French government, some of their comrades surrendered for fear of losing their life. Agape also called “perfect love” is characterized by the unconditional love that endures through hardship and trials. It is often compared to the love of a mother for her child as shown in the movie through Fontine and her daughter Cosette. It was also showed when Myriel, the priest gave Valjean the properties of the Church without any consideration. It was exemplified when Valjean released Javert, his archenemy, without any condition or favor. Agape is the type of love that transcends.

It is the type of love that begets love that is why when Javert released Valean when he finally captured him in the sewers. The Character of Javert Police Inspector Javert’s character in Les Miserable is a loyal servant of the law. He epitomizes an officer who gives high regard and respect for the law. He is one who follows it strict to the letter and is committed in following the law to the letter. To a certain point, Javert is obsessed with enforcing the law without ever considering if the law is flawed. He believes the law is always right and correct. He never doubts its reasonableness.

In his mind, a man is guilty and evil when the law declares him so. Although as stated above, Victor Hugo intentionally depicts Javert as a personification of secular law – which may be susceptible to wrong assertions and principles. Determination of Grave Offenses According to Article 3 Section 19 of the Constitution, no excessive, cruel, degrading, inhuman punishment shall be imposed and any employment of physical, psychological, or degrading punishment against any prisoner or detainee or the use of substandard or inadequate penal facilities under subhuman conditions shall also be punishable.

In the movie, Jean Valjean was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment for stealing a single loaf of bread. Clearly the punishment is excessive and its imposition is not justified against the offense committed. Additionally, the degrading and discriminatory effects of being convicted in a crime unjustly burden the life of the prisoner. In the movie, Jean Valjean had to change his identity to live a new life and return back to society.

The crippling consequence of being a prisoner does not only erode the purpose of rehabilitation but also encourage such prisoners to continue a life of crime after being released to provide for themselves. In the beginning of the movie, the prisoners are required to pull a ship to the shore during a typhoon. This poses a serious danger to the life of the prisoners who are also human beings. This inhuman punishment cannot be imposed or even considered in our society today. This punishment treats prisoners as slaves.

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