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Les Miserables

Les Miserables Summary


Here you will find a Les Miserables summary (Victor Hugo's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

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Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

Les Miserables Summary Overview

Having served a nineteen-year sentence for theft and repeated escape attempts, former prisoner Jean Valjean struggles to find acceptance in society. He encounters the kindly bishop of Digne, M. Myriel, who despite being stolen from by Valjean, saves him from the police. Inspired to reinvent himself, Valjean assumes the identity of Madeleine and brings prosperity to the town of Montreuil-sur-mer, eventually becoming its mayor. Fantine, an unwed mother from Montreuil, is forced to leave her daughter Cosette in the care of the corrupt Thénardiers family, while she works in Madeleine's factory. After being dismissed from her job when her secret is discovered, Fantine falls into destitution and is arrested. Madeleine intervenes, revealing his true identity as Jean Valjean to the police chief, Javert. As Fantine dies from shock at these revelations, Valjean promises to care for Cosette. He escapes from prison years later, rescues Cosette from the Thénardiers, and they find sanctuary in a Parisian convent. Marius Pontmercy, a law student, falls in love with Cosette. When Valjean plans to move to England with Cosette, Marius is devastated. He joins his friends in a political uprising, where he is saved from death by the heroic actions of Eponine, the Thénardiers' daughter. Valjean rescues the wounded Marius from the barricades and nurses him back to health. After a series of misunderstandings, Marius and Cosette marry, and Valjean, content in the knowledge of his daughter's happiness, dies peacefully.

fantine book 1

The story kicks off with a short account of M. Myriel, the Bishop of Digne from a nobility lineage. Born in 1740, he escapes to Italy during the French upheaval in 1789 and later returns as a clergyman. After bumping into Emperor Napoléon in 1806, he's appointed as the bishop. Upon settling in Digne, he finds out that a grand 18th-century palace is set for him and his small team, while the neighboring hospital patients are stuck in congested, unsafe living quarters. Myriel proposes to swap his lodgings with the hospital and donates a huge chunk of his church earnings to the needy people in the city and various charities at home and abroad. Myriel and his kin lead a modest lifestyle, but he retains two simple pleasures for his housemaid: a silverware set and a pair of silver candle holders. His kindness wins him the admiration of his parishioners, establishing him as a highly respected priest. He stands up for the poor, arguing that petty criminals often steal out of necessity rather than inherent wickedness. He openly criticizes the bias in French society and champions for education for all. For his deeds, the impoverished lovingly dub him “Bienvenu,” meaning “welcome.”

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In the fall of 1815, a mysterious stranger arrives in Digne. After a long journey, he's famished and exhausted. He visits the mayor's office to present his yellow passport, revealing he is a former convict. Despite his need, the townsfolk, including innkeepers, deny him service or shelter due to his past. However, when he approaches the home of Myriel, the bishop kindly invites him for dinner. The stranger, Jean Valjean, is a tree-cutter from southern France who has just completed a nineteen-year prison sentence. Initially jailed for stealing bread for his destitute family, his sentence extended due to his multiple escape attempts. Unaccustomed to kindness, Valjean is surprised by the bishop's respect. Unaware of Myriel's religious status, he gratefully accepts the offer of a free overnight stay but departs in the dead of night, taking the bishop’s silverware with him. Valjean is apprehended the following day with the stolen silverware. When brought back to Myriel's home, the bishop surprisingly asserts he gifted Valjean the silverware and admonishes Valjean for not also taking the silver candlesticks. Following this, Valjean is released. Myriel hands Valjean the said candlesticks and instructs him to uphold a pledge to become an honorable person. Bewildered and embarrassed, Valjean departs the town stealthily. In a rural area, he steals a silver coin from a child named Petit Gervais. Realizing the enormity of his deed when the child flees crying, Valjean attempts unsuccessfully to locate the boy and return the coin. Overwhelmed by remorse, Valjean sheds tears for the first time in almost two decades and resolves to become a better person. That night, he prays outside Myriel's house.

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In 1817, two years post-Myriel gifting the candlesticks to Valjean, we're offered a glimpse into the cultural, political, and artistic scene of Paris. Four affluent university students, Tholomyès, Listolier, Fameuil, and Blacheville, are introduced. These close-knit friends each have girlfriends from either the working or lower-middle sectors. The youngest amongst them is Fantine, a state-raised orphan, who is naïve and besotted with Tholomyès, her first boyfriend. Tholomyès suggests a prank on their girlfriends, leading them to believe in a surprise. They invite them to dinner and leave abruptly to orchestrate the 'surprise'. The girls' initial excitement turns to disappointment when they receive a letter from the waiter, signed by all four men. The note reveals that their parents have forbidden them from mingling with working-class women. While the other women react with unsurprised acceptance, Fantine feigns laughter to hide her heartbreak, worsened by her pregnancy with Tholomyès's child.

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Fantine, a few years later, opts to return to her birthplace, Montreuil-sur-mer, believing it to be best for her daughter, Cosette. However, she understands that the town's people won't allow her to work if they find out about her child born out of wedlock. In a dilemma, she rest at an inn, where she spots two cheerful girls in front of a pub. She strikes up a conversation with their mother, Madame Thénardier. Fantine finds herself pleading with Mme. Thénardier to care for Cosette while she finds employment. In exchange, Monsieur Thénardier insists on financial compensation every month. Reluctantly, she agrees, taking solace in the belief that Cosette will be well-cared for. Contrary to Fantine's beliefs, the Thénardiers are fraudsters. They maltreat Cosette by forcing her into strenuous housework, dressing her in tatters, and frequently abusing her. They misuse the money sent by Fantine for their personal needs and even pawn off Cosette's clothes. Upon learning about Cosette's illegitimate birth, Thénardier starts extorting more money from Fantine.

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Fantine returns to Montreuil-sur-mer after a dozen years and is taken aback by its transformation, largely due to Monsieur Madeleine. Having introduced a cost-effective way of creating black beads, Madeleine caused an industrial boom, and his societal contributions led to his appointment as mayor in 1820. The town's residents admire him immensely, especially after he saved two children from a fire, and they overlook his peculiar habits, including his black hatband worn in mourning of Bishop Myriel. Only police inspector, Javert, harbors suspicions about Madeleine, believing him to be Jean Valjean, a former prisoner known for his strength. These suspicions escalate after Madeleine rescues a man, Fauchelevent, from a collapsed carriage, exhibiting extraordinary strength. Despite Javert's suspicions, Madeleine doesn't seem concerned. Fantine manages to find a job in Madeleine's factory but her mysterious demeanor arouses suspicion among her colleagues. When a nosy scribe helping Fantine write letters to the Thénardiers reveals Fantine's secret of having an illegitimate child, she gets fired for immorality. Struggling to repay her debts and meet the escalating demands of the Thénardiers for Cosette's upkeep, she resorts to selling her hair, teeth and ultimately, turns to prostitution. One evening, Fantine reacts violently to a man's harassment, leading to her arrest by Javert. Despite her pleas for mercy for her daughter's sake, Javert is unmoved. Madeleine steps in, liberates Fantine and promises to care for her and Cosette. An angry Fantine blames and spits at Madeleine, who remains calm and reaffirms his assistance. Overwhelmed, Fantine faints. Javert, angered by Madeleine's interference, decides to probe deeper into his past.

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Fantine's health continues to decline due to a lingering lung disease. Madeleine remains her caretaker and tries to support her by sending money to the Thénardiers for Cosette. However, the Thénardiers see more benefit in keeping Cosette and reject the offer to return her. Madeleine contemplates saving Cosette himself, but his plans are upset when Javert comes to him, asking to be dismissed. Javert reveals his suspicion that Madeleine is actually Valjean and confesses to reporting him after Madeleine freed Fantine. According to Javert, Valjean, under the alias Champmathieu, has been caught again for theft and is facing a trial in Arras. Javert is convinced that Champmathieu is indeed Valjean and is heading to Arras to confirm it at the trial. Madeleine pretends to be unaffected by Javert's revelation and declines to release him from his service.

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Under the pseudonym Madeleine, Valjean grapples with the decision to expose his true identity. Doing so would clear the innocent Champmathieu, but Valjean then couldn't aid the underprivileged inhabitants of Montreuil-sur-mer. As he opts to keep his secret, he destroys potential evidence of his real identity. Nevertheless, spotting a stolen coin from Petit Gervais triggers his commitment to Myriel to live honorably. After wrestling with his moral dilemma all night, he yields to his guilt and resolves to attend Champmathieu's trial in Arras. Unanticipated obstacles delay Madeleine's journey, making him fear he is too late upon reaching Arras. Despite attempted obstruction, Madeleine's renowned reputation allows him access to the courtroom via a secret path for respected guests. Inside, he learns that Champmathieu does bear his resemblance and is failing to defend himself. Javert has testified, and three of Valjean's ex-prison companions corroborate that Champmathieu is indeed Valjean. As the court prepares to declare Champmathieu guilty, Madeleine intervenes, confessing that he is the real Valjean.

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Champmathieu is cleared of charges, and amidst the chaos, Valjean manages to assist Fantine back in Montreuil-sur-mer. An enthusiastic Javert arrives, eager to apprehend Valjean. However, Valjean pleads with Javert to rescue Cosette from the Thénardiers, which Javert dismisses with scorn. Upon learning her child hasn't arrived in Montreuil, a horrified Fantine succumbs to shock and passes away. Valjean, in his fury, escapes from Javert's clutches, holding him responsible for Fantine's demise. He whispers into the lifeless Fantine’s ear. That same night, he breaks free from his incarceration and arranges his personal matters back home. He bequeaths his wealth to the destitute before setting off to Paris. Fantine is laid to rest in a common burial ground.

cosette book 1

On June 18, 1815, the Battle of Waterloo took place, marking the fall of Napoléon Bonaparte's reign. The narrator presents a detailed description of the French army's struggles during the battle, countering most narratives that highlight the British victory. Despite the awe-inspiring leadership of Napoléon, the French are beaten due to inclement weather. While Napoléon's troops have superior firepower compared to Wellington, the British leader, unexpected rainfall interrupts the battle, allowing time for Prussian allies to join the British. The French are stranded on a mucky road, making them easy targets for the British artillery. Even though France falls, the narrator insists that the real victors are the men who fought for their convictions. The bravery of Cambronne, a soldier who refuses to surrender and fights till his last breath, is highlighted. In the aftermath of the battle, looters come out of hiding to pillage the fallen soldiers. This is a high-risk endeavour since the English commander has decreed execution for all thieves. One looter, while robbing an unconscious officer of his cross, watch, and money, inadvertently wakes him. Mistaking the thief for his savior, the officer, named Georges Pontmercy, asks for his name. The looter introduces himself as Thénardier. Grateful, Pontmercy vows to remember Thénardier as the man who saved his life.

cosette book 2

News circulates of Jean Valjean's capture and his possible romantic relationship with Fantine, along with his withdrawal of a large sum of money prior to his arrest. In Montfermeil, where the Thénardiers run an inn, locals observe an elderly road-mender, Boulatruelle, digging around in the forest. Thénardier succeeds in making Boulatruelle drunk, who then confesses that he saw a former prison mate enter the forest carrying a chest, pick, and shovel – Boulatruelle suspects he's hunting for hidden treasure. The story then shifts to a newspaper piece about the Orion, a warship anchored in Toulon. In November 1823, a sailor falls from the ship's mast, clutching a footrope in a death-defying grip. Among the large crowd watching, no one is willing to risk their life to help him. However, a prisoner from the ship's chain gang offers to save the sailor. Given permission, the convict, identified as Jean Valjean, scales the ship's rigging and rescues the sailor. The crowd applauds his heroism. In a tragic twist, Valjean stumbles, plunges into the water, and never resurfaces. After a thorough search, he is finally declared drowned.

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We meet Cosette again on a Christmas Eve in 1823, a month since Valjean's disappearance in Toulon's waters. At eight years old, she's still under the cruel care of the Thénardiers in Montfermeil. They force her to do chores, are physically and verbally abusive, nearly starve her, and insult her mother. In contrast, their daughters Eponine and Azelma, are spoiled rotten. However, they neglect their youngest child, Gavroche, similar to Cosette, considering him another burden. A band of travelers visit the inn, and Cosette is commanded by Mme. Thénardier to fetch water from the forest. The nighttime woods scare Cosette, and she tries to procrastinate but gets yelled at to hasten. The forest is daunting and frigid, and the filled bucket is too heavy for her. She screams for divine intervention. Unexpectedly, a huge hand lightens her load by lifting the bucket. Cosette, unaware of her savior's identity, isn't scared of the massive man holding the bucket. The man turns out to be Valjean, who is stunned to find out the girl is Cosette. He follows her back to the inn intending to lodge there for the night. He's appalled at Cosette's treatment at the inn and uses his money to convince the Thénardiers to let her enjoy the holiday. Seeing Valjean's wealth, they improve their behavior towards him. They're especially amazed when he gifts Cosette an extravagant doll. The following day, Valjean proposes to take Cosette with him. Mme. Thénardier is eager, while M. Thénardier plays hard to get, aiming to extract more money from Valjean. Valjean, without any bargaining, hands over 1,500 francs to Thénardier and departs with Cosette. Thénardier chases them demanding more money, claiming he needs Fantine's permission to let Cosette go. Valjean presents Fantine's note, sparking an argument. Thénardier eventually relents, intimidated by Valjean's size. Finally safe, Cosette dozes off in Valjean's arms.

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Valjean settles with Cosette in a secluded, dilapidated dwelling known as Gorbeau House, representing her as his granddaughter. His charity work quickly earns him a name amongst locals who dub him “the beggar who gives alms” due to his ragged attire. He gets a fright one day when he spots a familiar face under a beggar’s hood, thinking he has seen Javert. Despite rumors of the beggar being an undercover cop, Valjean convinces himself it's just his imagination. On a following night, he hears strange footsteps approaching his apartment. He instructs Cosette to remain silent and stays awake all night, expecting the stranger to depart. As dawn approaches, he hears someone descending the stairs. Peeping through the keyhole, he spots Javert. The landlady later questions Valjean about any unusual sounds during the night. Upon confirming that he heard footsteps, she suggests it could have been the new tenant, Dumont. This raises Valjean's suspicion that the landlady might be in collusion with Javert, and he decides to vacate Gorbeau House pronto.

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Gathering their belongings swiftly, Valjean and Cosette leave their apartment under the cover of darkness. Valjean, holding Cosette, tries to outrun Javert and his men through various parts of Paris. Despite crossing the river Seine at the Austerlitz Bridge, they are unable to completely escape their pursuers. In their hasty escape, Valjean and Cosette find themselves stuck in a dead-end alley. Seeing Javert and a patrol unit approaching, Valjean decides to leverage his expert climbing skills. He convinces Cosette to let him attach her to a rope he found nearby, and they successfully scale a wall. They land in a large, dark garden and are approached by a man recognized by Valjean as Fauchelevent, whom he had previously rescued. He gratefully offers them shelter for the night at the convent of Petit-Picpus. They accept and move Cosette inside to escape the cold. The book ends with an account of how Javert was able to trace Valjean. Misinformation about Cosette’s retrieval from the Thénardiers triggers his suspicion. On discovering that Valjean was the “beggar who gives alms,” he lies in wait at the Gorbeau House. However, his over-excitement leads him to give Valjean a headstart, and he returns to police headquarters, frustrated and embarrassed.

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The author introduces the Petit-Picpus nunnery and its rigorous practices, founded by Spaniard Martin Verga. The nuns are always praying, either for the world's sins or in reverence to the Holy Sacrament. The only males allowed in are the diocese's archbishop and a bell-wearing gardener for warning. The convent also operates a rigorous school, where the girls, despite their strict lifestyle, add vibrancy. By 1840, the harsh conditions at Petit-Picpus start causing decline, with no fresh arrivals and the elderly nuns passing away.

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The storyteller praises the power of prayer, asserting it can coexist with democratic principles. Yet, the writer criticizes the monastic lifestyle, such as convents and monasteries, for fostering social seclusion and extreme religious fervor. The narrator argues the isolation of the girls in the convent restricts their world knowledge. Essentially, the convent becomes a spiritual jail.

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Valjean, with the aid of Fauchelevent, is able to hide within the Petit-Picpus convent. Fauchelevent assumes Valjean, whom he still calls M. Madeleine, is in financial hardship and evading debtors. He offers Valjean a job as the deputy gardener of the convent, but first Valjean must exit and reenter to avoid arousing suspicion from the nuns. During this period, a nun from the convent falls sick and passes away. The nuns desire to inter her within the convent, but local law dictates she must be laid to rest in a public cemetery. They manage to convince Fauchelevent to transport an empty coffin filled with earth to the cemetery instead of the nun's body. Though Fauchelevent doubts the trick will work, Valjean suggests he be smuggled out in the coffin. Despite minor hitches, the plan works. Fauchelevent brings the coffin to the cemetery and tricks the gravedigger to extricate Valjean. Once back at the convent, Fauchelevent introduces Valjean as his brother Ultimus. Valjean is hired by the convent and Cosette is allowed to attend the convent school. Valjean proves to be a skilled gardener, and he and Cosette live in hidden contentment for a while.

marius book 1

In Paris, a young ragamuffin named Gavroche survives by his wits, living off the streets among countless other homeless children. His parents, the Thénardiers, who now reside in the Gorbeau House under the alias of Jondrette, had abandoned Gavroche, their unwanted third offspring, whom we first met as a baby in Montfermeil. Bereft of family support, Gavroche survives by begging and thievery. Despite being only around eleven or twelve, he holds no resentment towards his parents for their neglect, as he doesn't truly understand what parental care entails.

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The story centers around Marius Pontmercy, a young man raised by his elderly maternal grandfather, Monsieur Gillenormand, a die-hard monarchist. Marius's father, Georges Pontmercy, a colonel in Napoleon's army, is hounded for his Napoleon allegiance and intimidated by Gillenormand's threats to disinherit Marius. Consequently, he surrenders Marius's custody to his father-in-law.

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Marius, raised to believe his father deserted him, harbors little fondness for his dad. When he's eighteen, Gillenormand informs him of his father's ailment and instructs him to visit him in Vernon, his hometown. However, upon arriving, he finds that his father had just passed away. His long-standing belief of his father's nonchalance towards him makes mourning difficult. Sifting through his dad's possessions, he stumbles upon a note guiding him to Thénardier, a man his father owed his life to from Waterloo. The note urges Marius to lend Thénardier any help possible. Struggling to interpret his father's past in Paris, Marius is perplexed as to why a supposed uncaring father desired to see him on his deathbed. Churchwarden Mabeuf reveals that his father regularly visited Paris to observe Marius during Mass, further muddling Marius's understanding. He promptly goes back to Vernon to unravel the enigma. He engrosses himself in historical texts about his dad's heroics in Napoléon’s military, leading him to respect the late Pontmercy. Much to his grandfather's dismay, he becomes an ardent supporter of Napoléon. Upon discovering Marius’s shifted political stance, Gillenormand confronts him and a fierce argument ensues. Marius leaves, declining any familial aid or financial assistance.

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Marius becomes acquainted with a bunch of law peers who, like him, are increasingly drawn into political affairs, sidelining their academics. Courfeyrac, one of his peers who becomes his neighbor, welcomes Marius into a covert political association named Friends of the ABC. This group, under the passionate leadership of Enjolras, ardently promotes societal reform. Marius feels he has discovered a platform for venting his political frustrations. However, he eventually ends up in a heated argument with the group members regarding Napoléon. Marius praises Napoléon and labels his reign as a glorious French history chapter, contrasting with the group's interest in pure democratic liberty.

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Marius, feeling let down by the Friends of the ABC, chooses to leave and live independently. Despite acing his legal exams, he lives in extreme poverty. He scrimps and saves but often comes up short. His grandfather pines for him and his aunt tries to support him financially, which he rejects. The storyteller asserts that Marius's destitution proved beneficial as it freed him from societal expectations, allowing him to discover his true self. He develops a friendship with the parish official, Mabeuf, who assists him during hard times by securing him employment in a bookshop.

marius book 6

Despite his poor condition, Marius becomes a charming young man who often catches women's attention. However, he remains disinterested in them until he encounters Cosette and the aged Valjean in the Luxembourg Gardens. Marius feels a strong attraction to Cosette, and starts visiting the gardens frequently to see her. Unaware of her name, he dubs her “Lanoire,” a name created by Courfeyrac, due to her dark attire. Courfeyrac names her companion “Leblanc” due to Valjean's white hair. After half a year, Marius returns to the gardens and sees the girl transformed into a gorgeous young lady. He falls in love with her immediately. He finds a handkerchief with a “U” embroided on it and assumes it's hers, prompting him to rename her Ursula. His style of dressing improves and he starts trailing the pair around the park. Leblanc realizes what's happening and tests Marius by changing his sitting spot. Marius continues to follow, earning a cold look from Leblanc. Unable to resist, Marius follows the duo home and makes inquiries about their residence. However, a week later, they move without providing a new address.

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Victor Hugo presents the underbelly of Paris, led by four key figures: Montparnasse, Babet, Claquesous, and Gueulemer. Each notorious individual possesses a unique set of clandestine skills, yet they function as a single entity known as “Patron-Minette.” Their reign spans over their borough in Paris, predominately focusing on surprise attacks. Any local individual wishing to orchestrate a theft solicits their expertise, allowing Patron-Minette to polish and carry out the plot.

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Marius relentlessly pursues Cosette, known to him as Ursula, his love from the Luxembourg Gardens. However, she is nowhere to be found and Marius becomes desolate. His fixation on her only breaks with a visit from his neighbor, Eponine Jondrette, who comes to ask for money. Eponine's dire situation makes him realize his plight isn't the worst. Oblivious to Eponine's feelings for him, he gives her his last five francs. Becoming more concerned with the Jondrettes' wellbeing, Marius uncovers a peephole into their apartment. He's shocked by the deplorable conditions they live in. Through this peephole, Marius sees Leblanc, a philanthropist, and Ursula enter the Jondrettes' home. Jondrette, disguised as an unemployed actor, pleads for rent money from Leblanc, who promises to return with funds that evening. Marius stumbles upon a dangerous plot when he hears Jondrette planning to kill Leblanc. The Jondrettes, who seem to know Leblanc and Ursula from the past, are envious of their prosperity. Under the influence of the local gang, Patron-Minette, the Jondrettes devise a scheme to extort a large sum from Leblanc. Marius reports this plot to the police, where inspector Javert equips him with two pistols and instructs him to fire when the crime is underway, as a signal for the police. Upon Leblanc's return, he's ambushed by Jondrette and local thugs, including Patron-Minette. Despite their threats, Leblanc resists signing over his money, claiming to have none. An enraged Jondrette reveals his real name, Thénardier, which Marius recognizes from his father's note. He now faces the choice of aiding Leblanc or protecting the man who saved his father. The Thénardiers force Valjean to pen a letter calling Cosette to the apartment. However, Valjean deceives them with a fake name and address. As Thénardier prepares to kill Valjean, Marius throws Eponine’s note—“The cops are here”—through the window. The gang attempts to escape on reading the warning, but Javert arrives in time to arrest them. Amidst the chaos, Valjean escapes through the window.

saint denis book 1

The story details the events and aftermath of the 1830 July Revolution in France. Post the fall of Napoléon at Waterloo in 1815, the monarchy attempts to reclaim the privileges it lost in the French Revolution of 1789. The government, burdened with unsuccessful warfare and societal inequality, wrongly assumes it can gradually retract the rights accorded in 1815. This effort backfires, leading to the collapse of the monarchy and sparking the July Revolution of 1830. However, the succeeding government is not bereft of challenges. King Louis-Philippe, in his attempts to balance the various political groups, fails and displeases all factions. His blunders instigate yet another uprising in 1832. Enjolras, a student revolutionary, initiates the planning of a large-scale political rebellion in the Paris district of Faubourg Saint-Antoine.

saint denis book 2

Marius remains entranced by Cosette, whom he fondly calls "the lark". To assuage his longing, he visits a park named the Field of the Lark daily. Marius is unaware that Eponine has located Cosette out of her affection for him. She informs Marius that Cosette, along with Valjean, resides in Saint-Germain, a suburb of Paris. Eponine omits mentioning her encounter with Cosette in the garden while surveilling the house for a jailed thief. She instructs Marius to accompany her to the house. Oblivious to Eponine's feelings for him, Marius tries to give her a five-franc coin. Eponine drops the coin and refuses his money, expressing her disappointment to Marius.

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In their peaceful abode on Rue Plumet in Saint-Germain, Cosette and Valjean relish their carefree existence. However, internal conflicts start to arise. Cosette, who’s been under Valjean’s care since she was a child, is maturing into a lady. She starts realizing that Valjean’s decision to stay hidden in Saint-Germain isn't solely to evade Javert. His decision to halt their routine trips to the Luxembourg Gardens suggests his intent to shield Cosette from other men's attention. She nostalgically recalls the stranger she encountered in the gardens. With no romantic history, Valjean struggles to understand Cosette’s longing for a man she barely knows. Valjean also grapples with the harsh truth that Cosette is the only thing he has left in the world. To lose Cosette would be to lose his entire world.

saint denis book 4

Gavroche, a young street child, inadvertently learns about Father Mabeuf's financial troubles. Going off on his own, the boy witnesses a dangerous man, Montparnasse, assault an elderly gentleman. To his surprise, the old man, known to us as Valjean, fights back with surprising strength and manages to subdue Montparnasse. He gives Montparnasse a stern talk about his criminal activities before handing him his wallet and allowing him to leave. Seizing the opportunity, Gavroche swipes Montparnasse's wallet unnoticed and tosses it into Mabeuf's yard. Mabeuf is overjoyed to discover the wallet nearby, and his housekeeper concludes that it must be a divine providence.

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Months of strife culminate in Cosette and Valjean attaining tranquility again, reminiscent of their past peaceful life. This peace is disrupted by Marius, who had been secretly observing Cosette after Eponine disclosed her address. One evening, he leaves behind a confession of his affection for Cosette. The subsequent night, once Valjean embarks on his habitual stroll, Marius ventures into the garden to express his love for Cosette, who warmly returns his sentiments.

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Navigating through the Parisian streets, Gavroche persists in his unique form of urban philanthropy. He stumbles upon two abandoned, starving kids and uses his minimal funds to feed them, unaware that they are his own siblings. Gavroche then encounters a woman shivering in the harsh cold, for whom he sacrifices much of his own clothing to help her survive the night. He takes the two little boys to his makeshift abode within a massive elephant statue close to the Bastille prison. Later that evening, several outlaws are able to break out of jail, one of them being his father, Thénardier. Gavroche aids Thénardier in his escape from a rooftop, yet his avaricious father fails to recognize his own son as his rescuer.

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The text delves profoundly into the intricate roots and detailed lexicon of street jargon prevalent in Paris.

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With the arrival of spring, the romance between Marius and Cosette flourishes. Yet, their joy is broken by Valjean, who reveals his intentions to move to England with Cosette in a week. Valjean is certain they are being watched, noticing Thénardier nearby. As suspected, Thénardier is planning revenge and theft. However, his daughter Eponine manages to stall his schemes. Valjean's wish to flee Paris is driven by a fear of losing Cosette and his anxiety over France's declining political stability. Upon learning of Valjean's plans, Marius is devastated. He approaches his estranged grandfather Gillenormand, pleading for his approval to wed Cosette. This discussion sparks the beginning of their reconciliation process. However, when Gillenormand suggests Marius should make Cosette his mistress instead of his wife, Marius loses his temper. He accuses his grandfather of disrespecting his future wife and storms out.

saint denis book 9

Marius heads back to the Saint-Germain abode in hopes of encountering Cosette. His heart sinks when she doesn’t show up as planned, leading him to understand that she and Valjean have relocated. Before he can mourn his loss, a cryptic voice instructs him to unite with his comrades at the barricades.

saint denis book 10

Paris is experiencing a severe cholera outbreak, and the unpredictable climate makes it vulnerable to rebellion. The trigger eventually comes on June 5, 1832, at the funeral of General Lamarque, a well-loved champion of freedom and common people. Concerned that the collective grief might incite disorder, the monarchy sends soldiers all over Paris to keep the peace. When gunshots ring out on the Austerlitz Bridge, chaos breaks loose and barricades start to appear.

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Marius's past classmates, known as the Friends of the ABC, are swift to respond to the calls for rebellion. They start to equip and ready themselves for the upcoming clash with the military. Gavroche becomes part of their assembly. As the crowd moves through the city, the elderly churchwarden Mabeuf insists on joining them, persistently tailing them even when advised to return home.

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The young revolutionaries opt to fortify their beloved gathering place, the Corinth wine-shop, by constructing a blockade. Gavroche plays a key role in this endeavor, enthusiastically directing the construction and future defense. The group uses common objects to build their barricade and as dusk descends, their morale remains high. Despite his efforts, Gavroche cannot convince the others to arm him. After completion of the blockade, the group settles into a waiting game. However, Gavroche soon identifies a stranger amongst them as the undercover police officer, Javert, who is promptly taken hostage. A volatile incident ensues where a drunken rebel kills a local resident, leading to his immediate execution by Enjolras. Following this, Enjolras gives a stirring speech. Courfeyrac, Marius's flatmate, observes a familiar face amongst the revolutionaries; a lean, young worker who had been searching for Marius earlier.

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Overwhelmed by sorrow and yearning for death, Marius carries the pair of pistols provided by Javert earlier, and heads for the heart of Paris. He trods toward the barricades, resembling a man who has already met his end.

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Government forces arrive and bring down the rebel flag. Mabeuf attempts to raise it again, but is shot dead. The rebels decide to kill Javert, their captive, yet keep him alive to swap him for a comrade captured by the army. Upon hearing the captured rebel's execution, Enjolras plans to kill Javert shortly before their stronghold collapses. When the army strikes, Marius arrives just in time to help Courfeyrac and Gavroche, scaring off the soldiers by threatening to destroy their stronghold. The battle soon turns chaotic with Marius narrowly escaping death. Eponine, disguised as a laborer, saves Marius by taking a bullet meant for him. Before dying, she admits her love for him and gives him a letter from Cosette. After a tender moment with the dead Eponine, Marius reads Cosette’s letter, discovering her location. He then pens a farewell letter to Cosette, expecting to die in battle, and sends it with Gavroche.

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Gavroche is sprinting down the streets, holding Marius's letter. He unexpectedly encounters Valjean who insists on personally delivering the letter to Cosette. Initially dismissive, Gavroche eventually softens up and hands over the letter to the older man. Upon inquiry, Gavroche directs Valjean to the barricade's location before disappearing into the darkness. As Valjean reads the letter, his initial joy of no longer worrying about Marius interfering with his peace quickly fades. His good nature takes precedence, and he disguises himself as a National Guard member, setting off towards the barricade.

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The rebels briefly achieve success, but their spirits drop when they realize the city has not supported their revolt. As the army plans another assault, Enjolras urges those with families to return home. Despite their initial refusal, Enjolras persists and they vote on which five should leave. However, they only have enough disguises for four. Unexpectedly, Valjean steps forward, offering his own uniform for the fifth person. Valjean fights fearlessly, careful not to take lives. Enjolras, while lamenting the loss of life, is ready to kill for his cause. As ammunition runs out, Gavroche courageously collects more from fallen soldiers. He nearly returns unscathed, but is shot and dies. As the army nears, Enjolras orders Javert's execution, which Valjean steps up to perform. However, once alone, Valjean releases Javert, firing a shot into the air to feign execution. He rejoins the group, causing fear in Marius. Unable to repel the attackers, Enjolras orders a retreat. They retreat to the Corinth wine-shop. Marius is injured, and Valjean catches him, carrying him away. The troops find only Enjolras in the wine-shop and execute him whilst eliminating the remaining rebels. Valjean, carrying the unconscious Marius, desperately searches for an escape. With all exits blocked and soldiers closing in, he discovers a sewer grate and descends into the sewers with Marius.

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The author laments over Paris's impracticality of spending vast amounts on bird feces for nourishing the soil while discarding human waste that could fulfill a similar role. The Parisian sewers, once a dreadful sight, are discussed, including the horrific flood in 1802 that spread dirt and grime all over the city. A man by the name of Bruneseau initiated a comprehensive makeover of these sewers. The task was eventually completed following a cholera epidemic.

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Marius is in dire need of medical help. Guided by instinct, Valjean manages to navigate through the pitch-black and grimy sewers, all the while avoiding police and battling exhaustion and hunger, with the aim of getting Marius to safety. He finally finds a way out only to discover the gate is locked. Thénardier suddenly appears, offering to unlock the gate for a price. He doesn't recognize Valjean and believes him to be a killer. With no other choice, Valjean hands over the scant amount of money he has. Thénardier lets them out and takes a piece of Marius's jacket to later identify the supposed victim. Though Valjean reaches the Seine's banks, his liberty is fleeting as Javert, pursuing Thénardier, is stationed at the sewer's entrance. Unrecognizable due to his muddy and slimy state, Valjean surrenders to Javert. He pleads with Javert to allow him to deliver the ailing Marius to his grandfather. Javert complies and escorts them to Gillenormand’s residence. After Marius is safely left at his grandfather's house, Valjean requests another favor: to see Cosette one last time before he goes. Surprisingly, Javert agrees. With a heavy heart, Valjean ascends the stairs to see his foster daughter. He glances out the window, only to find that Javert has disappeared.

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Once Javert leaves Valjean's residence, he aimlessly roams through Paris, consumed by uncertainty for the first time. He struggles with the idea of arresting Valjean, feeling it lacks honor, yet his duty as a law enforcer compels him to act. Javert's lifelong aspiration of being faultless is shaken by Valjean’s act of kindness. Resolute, he pens a missive to the head of the Paris police, offering insights on prison discipline and related topics. Afterwards, Javert heads to the turbulent Seine, watches the water for a while, and eventually drowns himself.

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Marius heals slowly at his grandfather's house, oblivious to the fact that Valjean saved him from the barricades. He's recuperating from a fractured collarbone and multiple blood loss. After half a year of intense fever, he finally recovers fully, his mind immediately drifting to Cosette. Gillenormand, wishing to mend fences with Marius, permits him to wed Cosette, albeit reluctantly, as he presumes Cosette is a penniless labourer. Gillenormand is struck by Cosette's beauty upon their meeting and is surprised when Valjean reveals a dowry of 600,000 francs for Cosette. Regardless, Cosette and Marius show no interest in the monetary aspect, with Marius proclaiming his eternal love for Cosette.

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Since Valjean is the sole person aware of Cosette’s illegitimate status, nothing further hinders Cosette and Marius's joyful union. Just prior to the wedding, Valjean feigns an injury to his scribing hand. Unbeknownst to others, this is a trick to avoid having to falsify his name on the wedding papers. This deception is successful, and Gillenormand ends up signing all required documents instead. The wedding day brings joy, and Cosette settles into the Gillenormand family home. On the contrary, Valjean spends a night of deep reflection, saddened by the prospect of parting with the only one he has ever cherished.

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After Cosette's wedding, Valjean decides to reveal his criminal history to Marius. He visits Marius and divulges his past, leaving Marius stunned and initially disbelieving. Valjean struggles to assure him of the truth. Eventually, Marius accepts the reality and proposes to seek a pardon for Valjean, who declines. Cosette, in her joyous state, interrupts their serious conversation, but is sent away. Marius concurs with Valjean's idea to distance himself from Cosette. Nonetheless, Valjean negotiates to visit Cosette in the evenings, to which Marius agrees. After Valjean's departure, Marius starts viewing him as a criminal, suspecting him of killing Javert on the barricade. He even questions the authenticity of Cosette’s dowry.

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Without Cosette's knowledge, Marius gradually distances Valjean from her. He ensures Valjean's visits are less common, and when he does appear, he is only welcomed in the bare basement below the living room. Heartbroken over losing Cosette, Valjean retreats to his flat. He falls ill, succumbing to a fever as he takes to his bed. Lying in his room, haunted by sorrow, Valjean believes he won't see Cosette ever again and longs for death.

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Thénardier, in a statesman's disguise, approaches Marius offering to sell him information about Valjean. Marius recognizes Thénardier despite his disguise and dismissively hands him five hundred francs. Thénardier then shares that Valjean lawfully earned Cosette's dowry under the alias Madeleine, and that Javert did not fall victim to murder but instead took his own life. Marius considers the idea of Valjean being a decent man but Thénardier disputes this, branding Valjean as a criminal. He provides details of his encounter with Valjean in the sewer and presents a piece of fabric as evidence. To his shock, Marius discovers the fabric aligns perfectly with a tear in his own bloody jacket. Enraged, he pays off Thénardier and demands he leaves. Thénardier, it is revealed, uses the money to relocate to America and becomes involved in slave trading. Marius connects the dots and recognizes Valjean as his savior from the barricades and the one who led him home. Gripped by remorse, he confides in Cosette about his realization. The couple hurries to Valjean's residence and find him sick and bedbound, but their visit brings him immense joy. Overwhelmed with emotion, Valjean hugs Cosette for the last time and passes away in a state of contentment.

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