Characters such as Wolverine from the X-men, Batman from The Dark Knight, and Shrek from Shrek the movie are great examples of people who seemly are evil, but really do good for others around them. These characters are very similar to Jean Valjean in Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. People, in general, have both good and evil in them. Hugo proves this by showing that characters that do bad can still be a good person, that they use their conscience to make decisions, and that if they try they can make bad situations, good.
In Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Hugo proves that people that do bad things can still be a good person. When you first learn about Jean Valjean, he seems to be this criminal up to no good. When he entered a town unknown to him, people “regarded this traveler with a sort of distrust” (7), which means he seem deceitful and mysterious. But throughout the book, Jean Valjean becomes a much kinder, nice person. At one point, he saves a young girl, named Cosette, from the abuse she was enduring from the Thenardiess.
Before he leaves the Inn that the Thenardiess were running, when he is talking to the lady innkeeper, he asks if he can take Cosette with him. All he says is, “suppose you were relieved of her? ” (174) and she was his. He did a lot for this young girl. One major thing he did was risk his life to save the man that she was in love with. After a big fight, Marius becomes greatly wounded, and Jean tries to save him. Marius was helped from “the hand which had seized him from behind at the moment he was falling… was the hand of Jean Valjean” (505). Jean tried to help everyone, even though he did badly when he was younger.
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In Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Hugo shows that characters use their conscience to make decisions. Everyone has choices to make on a daily basis and they can choose to do good or bad. In the book, the characters had the attempt to make the good choice in their decisions. When Jean Valjean stole from the bishop and got caught, he busted himself out even when the bishop covered for him. When the gendarme brought him back to the bishop, Jean “raised his head with stupefied air” (33) because he knew he had to face the kind people after he had stolen.
After this bad choice, he made the choice to do better, which theoretically his conscience is telling him to do good things. Javert also made the better choice by, at the end, letting Jean Valjean free. Throughout the whole book, it’s been a wild goose chase for Javert to catch Jean and finally he does. While Javert, he went on a walk. There he realizes that “there was matter for self-examination” (529) and he revaluates his situation. During his “self-examination” he realizes that Jean was good and that now Jean has saved him from death, he couldn’t send him to jail.
That self-examination is like having a conversation with your conscience and thinking of if you should do good or bad. And in the end, he did good and let Jean go. In Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Hugo shows that anyone can make a bad situation, good. If you’re stuck in a bad condition, you need to think fast and get yourself out of that bad situation. Most people would do that by doing well. When Fantine gave up her daughter because she knew she couldn’t take care of her alone, she was trying to make a bad situation, better for someone else.
She even cut her hair off, so that her daughter had money. Towards the end of her life, she goes a tad crazy. She would say to herself, “When I am rich, I shall have my cosette with me, “(64) and she laughed, like she knew what she was saying was totally insane, but she kept telling herself that anyways. When Jean Valjean first took Cosette, he had to hide from Javert and the others with him. He was in a bad situation, but he tried to remember that he had a young girl with him and tried to make it a good situation. When they were running and finally gave up, Jean heard voices.
And “while these voices were singing Jean Valjean was entirely absorbed in them. He no longer saw the night, he saw a blue sky” (200). So even though he was in pain and struggling to go on, he let his religion over take him and he knew he had to go on to have Cosette. No matter how bad a person is, there is always some good in them. Hugo has proved this by conveying that characters that do bad can still be a good person, that they use their conscience to make decisions, and that if they try they can make bad situations, good.
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