Les Mis Final Essay
The Turmoil of Neglect A Chinese proverb once stated “[g]overn a family as you would cook a small fish – very gently. ” A life without family allegiance may bring man down, but the way man treats this situation determines the outcome of their life. Many cases of child neglect occur each day and nothing is done to help these children. As a result, these children live their whole lives alone because they never had any family there for them. This is also shown in the novel Les Miserables through the characters Marius and Eponine.
Hugo demonstrates the idea of neglect through the lack of family allegiance and shows how man can work through it. In Victor Hugo’s amaranthine classic, Les Miserables, neglect and the lack of family allegiance is portrayed as the undying force that causes man to resort to desperation to feel loved; throughout “Carnation girl, 14, found starved to 48 pounds” Mike Carter continuously advances the idea of the effects of child neglect in today’s contemporary life.
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We as a society need to allow more opportunities of love for neglected children; in Les Mis the quandary of neglect is resolved through finding the love of others.
In Les Mis the first instance of neglect is with Marius. Whilst dealing with being fatherless and shunned by his grandfather, Marius struggles to find love in his life. Marius is a young man who has lived most of his life with his grandfather, but as Marius ages his thoughts start to differ to those of his grandfather, Gillenormand’s. As a result, Marius becomes more hostile to Gillenormand, who eventually kicks Marius out. Marius is feeling neglect in this situation because the only family he has ever known no longer wants to see him.
This feeling of neglect had Marius “ready to melt into tears. It seemed to him that he had just lost his soul” (Hugo 296). Here Marius is starting to understand the importance of family allegiance. The effects of neglect are dawning on him and he is brought to tears, showing that he needs it in his life. Without the only family he’s ever had, Marius realizes his life has come to nothing. Even when Gillenormand tries to keep in touch, Marius refuses because his pride gets in the way. Through the time that Marius lives in neglect, it is the worst time of his live.
Without his family life has become a lackluster struggle that his driven him to poverty. Nothing seems good to him anymore and every day is a challenge. He is deprived of hope and happiness as a result of this neglect. Throughout the “five years Marius had lived in poverty” he realized his life was drifting to “privation… distress even” (290). The many years of neglect have taken a serious toll on Marius. The word privation proves that the lack of family may even be killing Marius. Hugo is showing that man simply cannot function without family or love in his life.
Even though Marius has the option to go back with his grandfather, his stubborn and arrogant personality will not let him. Marius’ desperation, however, grows as the story progresses. He develops a love for a woman named Cosette. Marius does not know this girl, but he thinks he is in love with her. This is caused by his many loveless years of neglect. After Marius sees Cosette for the first time in six months, she appears to have “put on a mantle of beauty” (291). This is showing how the neglect has finally made Marius snap and he finds he has to love someone.
The desperation for love drove Marius to essentially love the first thing he saw, this being Cosette. Hugo also demonstrates the idea of this undying neglect through the character Eponine. Even though she belongs to a family, Eponine is one of the most neglected Thenardier children and often resorts to desperation to find someone to care for her. The lack of love from her family essentially causes Eponine to age at an exponential rate. Since she has no family to love her Eponine has become very promiscuous and sleeps around a lot. Mr. Thenardier, her father, is the most neglectful member of the family.
He has not one ounce of care for his family, all he cares about is conning other people out of their hard earned money. He uses his daughter Eponine as one way of doing this. Eponine is “sold” by her father to have sex with men so he can gain money. She used to be a beautiful girl, but because of this neglect “the grace of her youth was… struggling against the hideous old age brought on by debauchery and poverty” (286). Hugo is showing how living a short life of neglect can make someone seem like they are much older. Eponine’s beauty was annihilated as a result of neglect.
The word debauchery is used to demonstrate how this neglect has caused her to become a desperate woman, who is looking for different things to make her feel better about herself. Even Marius, who has been living in solitude and neglect for years realizes that “he had never known real misery. Real misery he had just seen” in Eponine (290). This is showing how Eponine has taken the worst effects of the neglect she has experienced. Eponine is the most unfortunate person Marius has seen, and he lived on the streets for five years. Eponine’s desperation only rises when she meets Marius, however.
She immediately develops an infatuation for him. She views him as “a very pretty boy” and even though Marius “pays no attention” to her, “[she] know[s] [him], Monsieur Marius” (288). Hugo is now showing is that Eponine’s desperation has led her to start stalking Marius. The neglect Eponine has faced forces her to do things she might not have normally done. Such acts deem her as crazy to people such as Marius. Her small infatuation eventually turns to an undying love and obsession for Marius. She ends up wanting Marius so bad, she takes a bullet for him.
The everlasting problem of neglect exists not only in the novel, but also happens to many children even today. All throughout society today, many children are neglected by their parents and are subject to near death experiences. A young girl from the town of Carnation was found starved to a mere 48 pounds at the age of 14. Her family neglected her for years by locking her into her room and denying her access to food and water. Over the course of the many years of neglect, the young girl was faced with the ultimate struggle, the struggle for life.
She was forced to “survive on toast and a half a Dixie cup of water a day” (Carter). The amount of food and water she was given is not enough to live off of, which is why her desperation to live has kicked in. The lack of family allegiance in her life caused her natural instinct to live to kick in. At times when it seemed like she needed water to live, “she would sometimes suck condensation from the windows or sneak a drink from the toilet” (Carter).
These are things that would not normally be done by any human being. The neglect this girl was facing caused her to resort to nearly ecoming an animal to live. This relates back to Les Mis when Marius was living on the streets. Marius had many challenges to overcome just like the girl. The problem today is much more extreme today than portrayed in the novel. Today the children that face neglect are locked up and deprived of any help whatsoever, but in Les Mis the people who faced neglect could reach out to any people they could to get help. The effects on the children of today’s life are much worse than that of Les Mis. As stated in the article, at the age of 14 she “was 4 foot 7 and weighed 48 pounds” (Carter).
This is showing how in today’s society the children who face neglect are nearly killed as a result. The problem of neglect is a serious and troubling one, but that does not mean there are no solutions for it. The neglect Marius faces in his life seems to lead him down an unbearable path of loneliness and depression, however, things start to look better once he meets the woman of his dreams, Cosette. One day while Marius is feeling sad, and alone, he sees a beautiful woman named Cosette. He immediately falls in love with her and wants to meet her, however he doesn’t know where or how to start.
He notices she is always with an older man who appears to be her father. The solution for Marius to be a happy man and to work through the neglect is Cosette. When Marius saw her beauty, he instantly became obsessed. It has been some time since Marius first saw her, and now he sees that “she had not only grown, she had become idealized” (291). Hugo is telling us how Marius has become obsessed, and that she is his idea of perfection, thus showing that Cosette is the solution for Marius’ life of neglect. After Marius gets to know Cosette, he starts putting all his time and thought into her.
He would not make a decision without thinking of Cosette first. Even though Marius is no longer feeling the effects of neglect, he starts to face the consequences of obsession. It gets to the point where when Cosette needs to move away to another country, Marius feels his life is over, and goes to get himself killed at the barricade. This is all a result of the neglect Marius faced growing up. Even though the solution was to find love, this love drove Marius psychotic and made him want to end his life. Similarly, Eponine’s solution did not end well.
Eponine’s constant neglect and cumbersome life seem to cause her to age apidly and make her a weak person, until things start to lighten up when she meets Marius. Marius is to Eponine, as Cosette is to Marius. He is the one thing that can possibly make Eponine’s life better, but he hardly knows she exists. Eponine develops the loving feeling that she never felt with her family, for Marius. In doing this, she is filling the gap in her live that has been vacant for so long. Even the slightest thing that Marius does is shown to bring happiness and joy into her live. When Marius “gave…five francs to the young girl”, she is ecstatic and exclaims that “there is some sunshine” (289).
Even though Marius only gave her a small amount of money, the fact that she had any correlation with Marius whatsoever gave her hope. Although, much like Marius’ love with Cosette, Eponine gets too caught up. There comes a point at the barricade for the rebel forces where Marius is in danger, and Eponine puts her life in danger just to save him. Marius is about to be shot, but Eponine steps in and puts her hand out. The man shoots the bullet through her hand, and Eponine takes the bullet to the chest. As Eponine was cured of her life of neglect, she started focusing too much onto Marius, which resulted in her death.
In both instances of the novel, the solution ended up leading to a much worse fate. Although some may argue that death is a better fate than the life of suffering they would have had to live if there was no one for them to love. Throughout the novel, Hugo illustrates the solutions for neglect as love in one person. However, in today’s society, the solution is shown to be love from a family and all the necessities of life. The little girl from Carnation, Washington was forced to literally suck water out of windows to live, until the police found out and put her into a hospital and eventually a foster home.
With the help of the hospital and the foster home, the girl’s life was ultimately saved. The people who neglected the young child were thrown into jail for the gruesome fate they set out for this young woman. Even though she was put into a better place, things were not all happy and free yet. She still had many complications from the years of suffering she was put through. But with the help of her foster family, she has managed to “[gain] 20 pounds, [attend] private school, and [make] friends” (Carter).
The young girl’s success has been illustrated through the idea that a neglectful life can be turned around if you give enough love to that person. The progress made after the girl was presented with a little bit of love is immaculate, and if the characters in Les Miserables had taken the same approach, they would have ended up happy and not dead. From the beginning it has been shown that neglect can lead to a very tragic and dreadful life, but the ability to stay with and persevere through it can cause anyone to be happy. The deteriorating force of neglect will tear apart at man’s life until an opportunity for love is given.
In Victor Hugo’s timeless classic, Les Miserables, neglect and the lack of family allegiance is portrayed as the ruthless and destructive force that causes man to feel alone and wanted, thus leading to desperation; throughout “Carnation girl, 14, found starved to 48 pounds” Mike Carter continuously illustrates that child neglect is a growing issue that must be stopped. As a society, we need to have more support groups and group home organizations for neglected children; in Les Mis the quandary of neglect is resolved through seeking the attention and love of someone else.
Marius is neglected by his grandfather, and ends up living on the streets for five years. His desperation causes him to follow a woman named Cosette. Like Marius, Eponine is also neglected as a child. Only at the age of 16 she is already a prostitute, and looks much older than she is as a result. With this neglect, comes her desperation for Marius. Similarly in the sense of neglect, the little girl from Carnation, Washington faces terrible turmoils. She is forced to not eat or drink and is locked in a room.
She nearly dies and when she has to drink she sometimes sneaks it from the toilet. The universal solution for solving this problem of neglect is love from others and family. When Marius is presented with Cosette he forgets about all the bad things in his life and thinks he has it better. The same happens with Eponine, but she falls for Marius. When she is in love with Marius, her poverty doesn’t seem to bother her anymore. The girl from Washington is given the opportunity to live with a family that loves and cares for her.
When this happens, she quickly gets back on her feet, gaining back the necessary weight to live. She makes friends as well which turn her neglectful life back to normal. The issue of child neglect is prominent in today’s society because it is so much easier to do it and not get found out. Parent’s can lock their kids up in basements, closets, etc. and never be found out. Child neglect happens every day and you most of the time will not be able to tell unless you see a kid walking alone in the streets. A family is a very sacred bond that when broken, can lead to very strenuous lives.