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Hugo proposes love as the antidote to such materialism, and the moment when Valjean takes Cosette in his arms demonstrates Hugo’s belief that love enriches all parties involved. Indeed, Hugo stresses the importance of love above all other emotions. Although Valjean’s arrival heralds a new sense of safety for Cosette, it is not until he actually takes her in his arms that she feels whole. Love transforms Valjean’s quest from a simple rescue mission into something true and fulfilling. His life is still missing something, especially since helping others has so far been a thankless task. When Valjean picks up Cosette, however, he discovers that good deeds can bring the joy of being loved. His previous actions made him content, but his love for Cosette makes him supremely happy, beginning the second and final stage of his spiritual transformation.
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