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Jean Valjean quotes from Les Misérables have become iconic.

Nick Cartell in Les Miserables - 2023 Review

For the 2024 A to Z Challenge, I am sharing favorite quotes from favorite books. Enjoy!

Who Was Jean Valjean?

Jean Valjean is the central character in Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables. He is initially introduced as a hardened convict who has spent nineteen years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s starving child. After his release, Valjean finds it difficult to reintegrate into society due to his status as a former convict. However, an encounter with a compassionate bishop prompts him to change his ways and start anew.

Valjean adopts a new identity and becomes a successful businessman and philanthropist, but he is constantly pursued by Inspector Javert, who is determined to bring him to justice for breaking parole. Throughout the novel, Valjean grapples with issues of morality, justice, and redemption, ultimately evolving into a compassionate and selfless individual who dedicates his life to helping others.

Jean Valjean’s character embodies themes of forgiveness, compassion, and the potential for redemption, making him one of the most iconic and beloved characters in literature. His journey from a convict burdened by his past to a symbol of hope and redemption is central to the narrative of Les Misérables.

Why are Jean Valjean Quotes so Popular?

Jean Valjean is quoted because his character embodies profound themes and ideals that resonate with readers throughout the years. Here are a few reasons why his quotes are often cited:

  1. Moral and Ethical Dilemmas: Valjean grapples with complex moral and ethical dilemmas throughout the novel, and his quotes often reflect these struggles. His internal conflicts and eventual decisions to pursue goodness and redemption make his words thought-provoking and meaningful.
  2. Redemption and Transformation: Jean Valjean undergoes a remarkable transformation from a hardened convict to a compassionate and virtuous man. His journey of redemption is central to the novel, and his quotes capture the essence of this transformation, inspiring readers with the possibility of change and growth.
  3. Compassion and Empathy: Valjean’s character is defined by his compassion and empathy for others, especially the marginalized and downtrodden. His quotes often express sentiments of love, kindness, and empathy, serving as reminders of the importance of compassion in the face of adversity.
  4. Universal Themes: The themes explored through Valjean’s character—such as love, justice, sacrifice, and forgiveness—are universal and timeless. His quotes resonate with readers because they touch upon fundamental aspects of the human experience, making them relevant and impactful across different cultures and generations.

Overall, Jean Valjean’s quotes are quoted because they encapsulate the essence of his character and the profound themes of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables.

10 Jean Valjean Quotes from Les Misérables:

  1. “To owe life to a malefactor; to be, in spite of himself, on a level with a fugitive from justice; to betray society in order to be true to his conscience: that all these absurdities should be mingled with love.”
  2. “I am not a saint. I am a sinner. I am evil. I am wicked. I am a criminal. I am Jean Valjean!”
  3. “The soul of a just man should be a sanctuary where no human hand can disturb the silence.”
  4. “The saint who is married is the one who lives with God.”
  5. “If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring.”
  6. “To destroy evil with goodness—this is good; to slay one’s own sin with another’s sin—this is evil.”
  7. “There is nothing like a dream to create the future.”
  8. “I have a past. I have an infamous name. I am a convict. I am Jean Valjean. Let them do what they like with me, I am not what I was ten years ago. I have no other name than Jean Valjean.”
  9. “When the darkness comes, keep an eye on the light—whatever that is for you—no matter how far away it seems.”
  10. “Love each other dearly, always. There is scarcely anything else in the world but that: to love one another.”

Jean Valjean’s character undergoes profound transformation throughout the novel, and these quotes reflect his struggles, his redemption, and his deep sense of compassion and morality.

Famous Portrayals of Jean Valjean

  1. Colm Wilkinson in the Original 1985 London Musical
  2. Liam Neeson in the 1998 Hollywood Movie
  3. Richard Jordan in the 1978 Hollywood Movie
  4. Dominic West in the 2019 PBS Miniseries

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Jean Valjean quotes from Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.

10 Jean Valjean Quotes from Les Misérables.