Les Miserables Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. From what narrative point of view is Les Miserables related? What are the characteristics of this narrative style?

The story is told from a third-person omniscient point of view. Omniscient narrators have a god's-eye or all-knowing view, knowing more than their characters do. The narrator breaks in several times to equate himself with the author, acting as a vehicle of expression for the author's social views.

2. When and where does the narrative begin in Book I of Part I – Fantine? How is Bishop Myriel described?

The year is 1815 and Napoleon has just been defeated at Waterloo. Bishop Myriel is introduced in the community of Digne. There, he lives a quiet life as a just man, who is especially sympathetic toward the poor, bandits, and convicts.

3. How is Jean Valjean described in Book II of Part I – Fantine? Where has Jean Valjean come from?

Jean Valjean has just been released from prison after serving a lengthy, unjust sentence, during which he tried to escape numerous times. He was originally imprisoned for 5 years for stealing bread. Valjean is angry, hurt, and vengeful. His soul has "withered" and all but died.

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