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Religion and Faith
Religion and faith are central themes in the novel. Hugo often references God as the goal of all progress, and it is Bishop Myriel and the nuns of the Petit-Picpus convent who inspire Valjean to continue his moral journey. The most sympathetic characters in the novel (Valjean, Cosette, even Enjolras and Marius) have some sort of religious leanings, exemplified by their tendency to pray or to reference God. Interestingly, Hugo is not necessarily hostile to atheists (he often mentions Voltaire, a famous atheist writer, in glowing terms), nor does he believe that organized or institutionalized religion is always correct. Instead, he emphasizes a gentle, humanistic form of spirituality focused on God and rooted in good deeds.