Les Miserables

Marxism in Les Miserables: Victor Hugo's Critique of Parisian Societal Structures 12th Grade

Karl Marx’s ideas regarding the constructions of an unequal society were already prominent when Victor Hugo published the first book of Les Miserables’s in 1862, with the release of The Communist Manifesto in 1848. In it, Marx states “The history of all previous societies has been the history of class struggle.” In 1800s, society was undergoing serious changes – the population was expanding faster than the economy, rural poverty was driving people to the cities, and from the French Revolution to the June Rebellion of 1832 Hugo depicts in his novel, France saw four different monarchs on the throne within forty years. As a result of these great changes, the people suffered, and those who suffered the most were, naturally, the proletariat. The characters within Les Miserables reflect the society, and its challenges, in the 1800s in France. Although the national proverb of France became “liberty, equality, and fraternity”, for the people of Parisian society, this was not the reality. Hugo was concerned with portraying the struggles between social classes in Parisian society, and goes so far as to even state this in the preface to the novel. “So long as the three problems of the age – the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of...

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