Les Miserables: Is It Worth It?


Liliana Owen

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo is a novel dealing with the themes of Justice, Human Rights, and the meaning of life.

Liliana Owen, Journalist

A year or so ago, I read for two days straight, making my way through the 1,463 pages in my copy of the giant and famous classic by Victor Hugo, Les Miserables. It started with a question from my Dad. To paraphrase, imagine a man, a holy priest, who has done nothing but good in his life. One day a criminal comes along and asks to stay the night. Being the good man that he was, he said yes. But when morning came, the man was gone, taking with him the priest’s most prized possessions: a silver tableware set, his last worldly treasure. The criminal was caught by the police and dragged back, where the priest was asked to confirm the man’s claim that it had been a gift.

What does the priest do? Does he tell the truth and send the man to prison for life, or tell a lie and let the criminal go free, giving him a second chance at life?

I begged to know what would happen, but my Dad refused to tell me. I would have to find it out for myself, he said. So I did. I found our copy of the book and started reading. The book sucked me into another world, a world I practically lived in for a little over two days. When I finally finished it, I was in a daze, struck with wonder at it.

Now, I am thinking about rereading it. I shudder as I remember the dry historical bits which seemed to last forever and the author’s wordiness. So is reading Les Mis, as it is commonly called, actually worth it? Yes, undoubtedly. Here is why: Les Mis is one of the greatest classics I have ever read, because of three very powerful lessons found within:


Forgiveness is huge in this book. It’s a little hard to explain without giving stuff away, but it’s there, and seems to be the main theme of the book, forgiving others when you are slighted and receiving forgiveness when you slip up or make mistakes. This book asserts that it is one of the greatest gifts one could ever give their fellowmen.


As this book masterfully shows, actions have consequences. Every action, both good and bad, will have results. If you steal, you will go to jail and people won’t trust you. When you forgive others, they will find it easier to forgive you. If you are honest, people will trust you.

People Change.

This one is another giant theme that really stood out to me. People change: they aren’t stagnant. You are not the person you were ten years ago, or even five or two years ago. A past criminal can become a man of integrity, and vice versa. It all depends on who you choose to become, by the choices you make and the paths you choose to follow.

So is reading this immense book worth it? Despite the length, and the boring parts, yes, most definitely. I will most definitely be rereading it soon, and I am looking forward to uncovering even more hidden treasures of wisdom from those pages.