Morality In Les Miserables

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Les Miserables: Morality and the Human Experience Les Miserables by Victor Hugo focuses on the interactions between people and society, as well as how the actions of a few can affect the whole. Jean Valjean, Javert, and Thenardier were catalysts for this novel, each in their own ways. By studying how their Hedonistic, Utilitarian, and Kant’s Categorical viewpoints evolved throughout the story, one can better understand the message that Hugo is conveying to the reader: that although love can completely change someone’s life, selfishness can do the same. Jean Valjean began with a very Hedonistic view on life, as was expected due to his time as a prisoner. In jail, it is an “every man for himself” mentality: they only look after themselves, because caring for others is a liability, an invitation to be considered “weak,” and a target. Valjean, beaten down by the 19 years that he spent behind bars, developed a distaste for the society that kept him in that cell. As Hugo writes, “If it were not outrageous that society should treat with such rigid precision those of its members who were most poorly endowed in the distribution of wealth that chance had made, and who were, therefore, most worthy of indulgence. These questions asked and decided, he condemned society and sentenced it. He sentenced it…show more content…
From Valjean’s shift from Hedonism to a selfless Utilitarian lifestyle, to Javert’s strict Kant’s Categorical moral code and Thenardier’s despicable Hedonistic life, each had a very real impact in the people they met and the course that the story took. It shows that based on one’s experiences, their lives could be greatly improved, or worsened. Hugo advocates to the reader to lead a Utilitarian lifestyle, but also urges the real impact that Hedonism and Kant’s Categorical has on society. One must always strive for good, but also accept the fact that sometimes evil and ignorance
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