Les Miserables

Les Miserables

Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel Character Analysis

Regularly referred to as Bishop of D--, Bienvenu, the novel begins as a story about the Bishop, who is the embodiment of goodness in the book—even as the narrator suggests that ultimate goodness is not the same as great intelligence or even theological knowledge. By creating a religious and specifically Christian figure as the epitome of goodness, Hugo both emphasizes his belief that God is the way to goodness, and offers an alternative to the conception of many religious figures as corrupt and power-hungry. The Bishop is the key to Valjean’s redemption—not necessarily in his own person but, according to the novel, as a conduit to God’s redemption.

Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel Quotes in Les Miserables

The Les Miserables quotes below are all either spoken by Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel or refer to Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love and Redemption Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Canterbury Classics edition of Les Miserables published in 2015.
Volume 1, Book 1 Quotes

“The guilty one is not the person who has committed the sin, but the person who has created the shadow.”

Related Characters: Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel (speaker)
Related Symbols: Light and Darkness
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Let us never fear robbers nor murderers. Those are dangers from without, petty dangers. Let us fear ourselves. Prejudices are the real robbers; vices are the real murderers. The great dangers lie within ourselves.”

Related Characters: Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel (speaker)
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

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Volume 2, Book 4 Quotes

Only, as he was five and fifty, and Cosette eight years of age, all that might have been love in the whole course of his life flowed together into a sort of ineffable light. It was the second white apparition which he had encountered. The Bishop had caused the dawn of virtue to rise on his horizon; Cosette caused the dawn of love to rise.

Related Characters: Jean Valjean, Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel, Cosette
Related Symbols: Light and Darkness
Page Number: 379
Explanation and Analysis:

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Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel Character Timeline in Les Miserables

The timeline below shows where the character Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel appears in Les Miserables. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Volume 1, Book 1: A Just Man
History, Revolution, and Progress Theme Icon
Chapter 1 We learn the name of the Bishop of “D----” (the town’s real name isn’t given), an old man named Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel. He... (full context)
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Around the turn of the century, when he was still just a priest, Myriel went to Paris to ask for aid for his parishioners. He was waiting to speak... (full context)
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...small town where gossip and rumors rule, after around nine years, any rumors about the Bishop had dissipated. Myriel had arrived with his sister, Mademoiselle Baptistine, a spinster ten years younger... (full context)
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Chapter 2 In D----, the episcopal palace—a huge, grand house where the Bishop is installed—had in the past welcomed major political figures from Paris, and is home to... (full context)
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Myriel, whose family was ruined in the Revolution, has no property, and receives 15,000 francs yearly... (full context)
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...flow in, and those who have little of their own begin to knock at the Bishop’s door to collect them. Though he becomes a kind of treasurer or cashier, he’s never... (full context)
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Chapter 3 Though the Bishop lacks a carriage, he still manages to visit the dozens of chapels and vicarships in... (full context)
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During his visits, the Bishop is kind rather than harsh, using stories and examples from neighboring villages he’s visited to... (full context)
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Chapter 4 The Bishop is cheerful and enjoys joking around. One day he tries to reach a book on... (full context)
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...or 1/20 of a franc) each Sunday to the beggar at the cathedral door. The Bishop remarks that there goes M. Geborand, buying paradise for a sou. (full context)
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The Bishop constantly reminds his congregation of the suffering of the poor. He adopts the peasants’ dialects... (full context)
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One day the Bishop hears a criminal case about a very poor man who had coined counterfeit money to... (full context)
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...the town priest refuses to attend to the prisoner in his last moments, so the Bishop volunteers to. He spends the entire day with him, speaking with and consoling him, until... (full context)
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The Bishop had been shocked to see the guillotine. The narrator goes on to show how no... (full context)
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Myriel is often summoned to the bedsides of those who are dying, and counsels them to... (full context)
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Chapter 5 Myriel leads a monastic life, sleeping little and saying mass every morning. He is very busy,... (full context)
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Chapter 6 The Bishop sleeps on the second floor of his house, and the oratory is in the attic.... (full context)
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The Bishop’s bedchamber is simple and decorated only with crosses and two portraits of abbés. The only... (full context)
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In the garden, Madame Magloire grows vegetables while the Bishop grows flowers. Madame Magloire once remarked at the uselessness of growing flowers rather than food,... (full context)
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The house has no doors that could be locked, and the Bishop keeps them open day and night: he believes the door of the physician and of... (full context)
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Chapter 7 The narrator tells the story of one incident to explain the Bishop’s nature. An ex-lieutenant and now bandit, Cravatte, escaped and made his way through many small... (full context)
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Chapter 8 One day, a senator comes to D--- to dine with Myriel and the prefect. The senator declares that he wants to explain his philosophy—he laughs at... (full context)
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The Bishop claps his hands and says this materialism is marvelous, allowing anyone who promotes it to... (full context)
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Chapter 9 To better understand the Bishop, the narrator transcribes a letter from Mademoiselle Baptistine to her childhood friend, in which she... (full context)
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Chapter 10 An even more dangerous act of the Bishop is the subject of this chapter. A member of the French Convention, “G---,” who hadn’t... (full context)
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The Bishop, despite his modesty, is a little shocked not to be addressed as Monseigneur by G---,... (full context)
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...Revolution was the consecration of humanity, even despite ’93—that is, the Terror. Each time the Bishop introduces a counterpoint—for instance, the murder of the child Louis XVII with his father—the man... (full context)
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...bring the human race forward. The brutalities of progress are called revolution, he says. The Bishop says that progress should believe in God and follow him. Suddenly, the old man begins... (full context)
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Chapter 11 The narrator cautions that Monseigneur Welcome is not a “philosophical Bishop”—rather, the encounter with the Convention man (G---) astonished him and only made him more gentle.... (full context)
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The narrator remarks that one can easily admire the Bishop’s protest against Napoleon in the name of liberty while Napoleon was all-powerful, though the same... (full context)
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The Bishop is tolerant overall, however. There was a porter of the town-hall placed by the Emperor,... (full context)
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...servants around them, a pulsing group that can support the high ambitions of any priest. Bienvenu has no such gang of young priests around him, and lacks any ambition for success.... (full context)
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Chapter 13 The narrator cannot tell exactly what the Bishop thinks of certain dogmas or mysteries, because more important than theology to him is love... (full context)
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When the Bishop speaks he seems joyful and at ease, but when he is alone and in thought... (full context)
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Chapter 14 The Bishop refrains from thinking too hard about the insoluble problems of life and the universe. He... (full context)
Volume 1, Book 2: The Fall
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...small, low house down the street, asks if he’s knocked at that door. It’s the Bishop’s home. (full context)
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Chapter 2 That evening, the Bishop of D--- is working on a manuscript about religious and personal duty. Meanwhile, Madame Magloire... (full context)
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...says he has money and is very hungry: he asks if he may stay. The Bishop immediately tells Madame Magloire to set another place. The man advances and repeats that he’s... (full context)
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...slept in a bed in 19 years, and he was sure he’d be expelled. The Bishop says he won’t charge him anything, but asks how much he’s made in 19 years:... (full context)
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The Bishop tells Jean Valjean that he is deserving of pity, and that God rejoices at a... (full context)
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Chapter 5 The Bishop leads Valjean into the alcove, crossing through his bedroom first, as the house’s layout makes... (full context)
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Chapter 10 We return to the Bishop’s house, where Jean Valjean is awakened by his overly comfortable bed—he isn’t used to it.... (full context)
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...imagines the household descending on him. But all is silent, and he slips into the Bishop’s bedroom. The Bishop’s face is illuminated and seems satisfied, hopeful, and content—almost divine. These emotions... (full context)
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Chapter 12 The next morning, Madame Magloire rushes into the garden to inform the Bishop that the silverware has been stolen. The Bishop calmly tells her that he had been... (full context)
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...and cries for the first time in 19 years. When he had first left the Bishop’s house, he had hardened himself against the priest’s words, perceiving indistinctly that the words were... (full context)
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...properly, and he is horrified. He compares the vision of himself to that of the Bishop, and he himself seems to shrink and then vanish in the Bishop’s magnificent light. As... (full context)
Volume 1, Book 5: The Descent
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Chapter 4 In 1820, M. Myriel, Bishop of D---, dies at age 82, having been blind for several years, though happily... (full context)
Volume 1, Book 7: The Champmathieu Affair
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...save him, he would actually achieve his own resurrection. He feels suddenly as if the Bishop is present. He decides he must go to Arras and reveal himself. Valjean begins to... (full context)
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...D--- with. He prepares to throw it into the fire. He catches sight of the Bishop’s candlesticks among the possessions, and is about to throw them in as well. He seems... (full context)
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...Madeleine thanks him but says he is not mad. He acknowledges that he robbed the Bishop and Gervais. He says that in the galleys he became both stupid and vicious before... (full context)
Volume 5, Book 5: Grandson and Grandfather
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...bury the sum previously deposited at Laffitte’s in the forest of Montfermeil, together with the Bishop’s candlesticks. He’s returned each time he needed money. Now he keeps only 500 francs for... (full context)
Volume 5, Book 9: Supreme Shadow, Supreme Dawn
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...says he’s had one. He points above his head, and the narrator notes that the Bishop may well have been present. (full context)