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“Marius,” Books One–Three

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“Marius,” Books One–Three

“Marius,” Books One–Three

“Marius,” Books One–Three

“Marius,” Books One–Three

“Marius,” Books One–Three

While the Thénardiers’ values have remained much the same, their move to Paris is a comment on the uprooted and debased nature of the French middle class following the restoration of the monarchy. Since leaving their inn in Montfermeil, the Thénardiers have become much poorer, and their greedy misbehavior has degenerated into serious con artistry and fraud. The Thénardiers’ debased status is largely due to their obsession with money. Despite—or perhaps because of—their singular pursuit of francs, the Thénardiers are now worse off than they were in Montfermeil, since all of them are now packed into a wretched one-room tenement. Regardless of the cause of their misfortunes, however, the Thénardiers are a warning of what happens when one social class loses so much so quickly. Early on, the Thénardiers are petty swindlers, but their increasing poverty has made them so desperate and selfish that they go so far as to throw their youngest son, Gavroche, out onto the streets.

Gavroche exemplifies Hugo’s belief that material wealth is unnecessary for—and can even impede—true happiness. Although Gavroche is the Thénardier who possesses the least, he is the happiest and most generous of the lot. He is less driven by the need for wealth and possessions, which makes him freer than the other Thénardiers to pursue his more authentic desires. Gavroche’s carefree existence stands in striking contrast to the Thénardiers’ home life, which consists of sitting idly in a cold, dark room all day, waiting for money from one of their schemes to come in. The difference between Gavroche and the rest of his family shows the misery that can accompany an obsession with money, as opposed to the happiness that can come with freedom.

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“MARIUS,” BOOKS ONE–THREE QUIZ

Where are the Thénardiers living under the pseudonym Jondrette?
Gorbeau House
Montfermeil
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by Adi31415, March 28, 2013

Les Miserables is based around the turning point in French history, and it explores the nature of this change in terms of society, and uses this as a basis for explaining the revolution. It explains how the ‘miserables’, or ‘victims’, damned into a life of thievery and being the scum of the Earth aren’t inherently bad. The society which has not given them a chance forces them to be bad, or do bad things. Instead of understanding their inner goodness and their plight to change their ways, or giving them some kindness or hope, they a... Read more

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Correction to Note 1 in Study Section

by IleneRM, October 24, 2013

It says: "Fantine falls in love with Tholomyès, a debonair upper-class student who obeys upper-class social customs and leaves Fantine even though she is pregnant with his child." This is wrong. Fantine was not pregnant. Ten months after the affair ended, Cosette was almost 3 years old; therefore she was already born when he left Fantine.

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12 out of 20 people found this helpful

Study Questions - error in #1

by IleneRM, October 24, 2013

It says: "Fantine falls in love with Tholomyès, a debonair upper-class student who obeys upper-class social customs and leaves Fantine even though she is pregnant with his child." This is wrong. Fantine was not pregnant. Ten months after the affair ended, Cosette was almost 3 years old; therefore she was already born when he left Fantine.

See all 7 readers' notes   →