Les Miserables is a story, a very long story, which has been categorized as a classic. The story is about 1200 pages long. It is an epic saga, which covers about three decades in the early 1800’s of France. The film is about the fugitive, Jean Valjean, following his release from jail after doing nineteen years of hard labor for stealing bread. Jean Valjean is chased by the cruel and self-righteous Inspector Javert, in a lifelong struggle to evade capture.
The novel, Les Miserables is internationally known. That is because of its universal themes. These themes are: how society treats its outcasts, and how it views its criminals, prejudice, justice, doing what is morally right, and people can become better persons.
The theme -how society treats its outcasts- can be seen in how the poor and homeless are are treated, and that is like animals.
The rich treat them as though they are inferior and that they have no feelings or any form of intelligence. They are also not given the right to vote, which makes them not citizens of that nation.
This theme is universal because every nation in the world has some sort of outcasts in their land. In America, this theme can be related to the blacks. In the beginning of the twentieth century they did not have as much rights and oppurtunities as the whites. Another example of how this theme can be related to America is how a person with a southern accent is perceived as less intelligent, which is a false misconception.
The theme -how criminals are viewed by society- can be seen by how Jean Valjean is treated after he is released by prison. Although, he has served a sentence of nineteen years, he is still chased and wanted. In that period of time when a person commited theft it was viewed as a crime against the community and that person should be punished to the most extremes.
That theme can be seen in modern America. When a person commits a federal crime heshe cannot hold a public job or teach for the rest of hisher life. Also, when a person commits a crime, that person and that person’s career is scarred for life.
The theme -doing what is morally right- can be seen in many instances in the novel. One instance is Valjean gives money to free Cozzette. Another instance is Valjean does not kill Javert to save his life. Also, Javert lets Valjean go free. There are also times where people do something that is morally wrong, but lawful. One might be when the students are executed. Another might be the arrest of the prostitute. A present time situation might be soldiers killing other soldiers. It is legal, but is morally wrong.
In conclusion, the novel, Les Miserables, is a universal book with themes that many people from many countries can relate to. That is why it is put in the class of classics. It is also popular because it can be related with present time situations and events.