Les Miserables

Les Miserables

Les Miserables Volume 1, Book 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
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 was the son of a man of Parliament, and he spent his younger years devoted to worldly affairs. But during the French Revolution, he was forced to emigrate to Italy, and his wife died before having children. The narrator isn’t sure if it was the tragedy in his own family, the revolutionary madness of 1793, or something else, but when Myriel returned, he had become a priest.
Readers expecting a straightforward immersion into the protagonist’s life might be surprised by this introduction. Hugo, as we’ll see, is not afraid to enter obliquely into a narrative, here by painting a full picture of a bishop whose path Jean Valjean (the book’s protagonist) will only cross later on. The French Revolution will also be a major point of historical reference throughout the book.
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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 to Cardinal Fesch, the uncle of Napoleon, when Napoleon himself entered the anteroom and asked who this good man was. The Bishop said he might be good, but Napoleon was a great man. Soon after, he was surprised to learn that he had been appointed Bishop of D----.
Napoleon was Emperor of France following the brief republic of the French Revolution, and many French (even clergy members) admired him for his courage in war and his desire to extend France’s borders (and with it, its values and traditions) throughout Europe.
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Though D---- is a 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 than he was, and with a servant of the same age, Madame Magloire. Mademoiselle Baptistine is a respectable woman, not pretty, but deeply good, though her goodness seems to make her light and transparent, merely a conduit for her soul’s eventual ascent to heaven.
Both these women serve a largely ornamental purpose in the novel, their purpose remaining one of obedience to and respect for the Bishop. By showing how deeply good of a person Mademoiselle Baptistine is, the text can show more clearly how remarkable is the Bishop’s even greater emphasis on charity, modesty, and good works.
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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 opulent furniture. It’s located next to the small, narrow town hospital, which the Bishop visits after his arrival. He asks the director how many sick people there are in the hospital presently: there are 26. He notes that the beds are crowded, there isn’t much light, and the hospital can be overwhelmed. The director asks what can be done other than resign himself. The Bishop is quiet and asks how many beds his own dining room would hold—he gathers it would be around 20. He says there’s been a mistake—the two of them must switch houses. The next day the Bishop settles into the hospital, while the 36 patients are installed in the palace.
This story is the first example of the Bishop’s radical belief in making do with as little as possible so as to help those who are less fortunate. He does not make this move with great fanfare. Instead, it appears that he truly is surprised by the opulence of his own mansion and its contrast to the hospital, and merely thinks of this as a disparity that must be corrected. Corruption among the clergy was a source of discontent and suspicion with French people at this time, and the Bishop reflects an alternative to what he sees as an injustice among those who are supposed to serve God.
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Myriel, whose family was ruined in the Revolution, has no property, and receives 15,000 francs yearly from the State. At the beginning of his stay, he draws up a note of expenses. He declares only 1,000 francs for his personal expenses, and the rest for charity. Mademoiselle Baptistine admires and venerates her brother and submits to his every wish. It’s only Madame Magloire who is a little unhappy with the situation. After about three months, she tells the Bishop that he hasn’t even claimed the allowance due to him for a customary town carriage. The General Council votes him an annual sum of 3,000 francs, but the local bourgeois inhabitants are indignant at this expense, which seems extravagant for such a small town. One General Council member writes a letter to a minister claiming that all priests are greedy and live in luxury. Madame Magloire, however, is delighted at the 3,000 francs. That night the Bishop writes out a note of expenses, devoting all 3,000, again, to various charitable donations.
If there’s an ethical hierarchy to be set up in this household, Mademoiselle Baptistine probably occupies the intermediate position, not actively seeking ways to give away the household wealth but also happily complying with her brother’s ideas. Madame Magloire doesn’t come out too highly here, though she’s hardly a greedy spendthrift—as the servant of the household, she simply wants to do her job well. The book therefore shows how truly radical the Bishop’s desires are, as well as how they go against the stereotypes held by townspeople about greedy priests—judgments that are still socially entrenched despite the Bishop’s charitable actions.
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Money offerings and alms soon 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 tempted to add anything to his bare necessities. The peasants of the town begin to call the Bishop Monseigneur Bienvenu [Welcome], which pleases him.
People are beginning to realize that there’s something different about this priest, and their judgment slowly turns into affection and love. The process of undoing an atmosphere of stinginess and suspicion is difficult, but ultimately attainable.
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Chapter 3 Though the Bishop lacks a carriage, he still manages to visit the dozens of chapels and vicarships in the area, on foot or cart. One day he arrives at the ancient city of Senez mounted on an ass (donkey), the only means of transport he could afford. People in the village begin to laugh, and the mayor seems scandalized. The Bishop apologizes for what he says must seem arrogant—riding the same animal that was used by Jesus Christ.
Small anecdotes like these allow the narrator to marshal further support for the idea that the Bishop is truly good, the “real deal,” and not somehow tricking the populace. At each turn, the Bishop manages to display greater humility, seeming to care little for social norms that dictate the regular rules of judgment.
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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 show why people should be generous and kind to their neighbors. In other cases, he invents parables that are direct rather than obtuse, so that people can understand them better.
The Catholic Church was also known at this time for its complex rituals and lack of direct contact between priests and the people. The Bishop counters this, interacting with the poor and trying to actually change the way people act.
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Chapter 4 The Bishop is cheerful and enjoys joking around. One day he tries to reach a book on an upper shelf of his library, but he’s short and can’t reach it. He asks Madame Magloire to fetch him a chair, since his “grandeur” doesn’t reach as high as the shelf.
Though he’s humble, meek, and generous, the Bishop, as the narrator wants to make clear, isn’t joyless—it’s possible to do good without being overly serious and somber.
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Once, during Lent, a young vicar comes to preach on charity, telling the rich to give to the poor to avoid hell (which he portrays in vivid, terrifying detail). A wealthy merchant named M. Geborand, who had never given to the poor in his life, begins to give a sou (5 centimes, 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.
For the Bishop, the terrors of hell are not a good reason to give to the poor. One should be generous simply because it’s the right thing to do, rather than as an instrumental step towards a selfish goal. The story again shows the Bishop’s sense of humor and irony.
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The Bishop constantly reminds his congregation of the suffering of the poor. He adopts the peasants’ dialects wherever he goes. He treats everyone from all classes the same, and isn’t quick to judge, since he says he himself is an ex-sinner. He’s indulgent towards women and the poor, since they are treated the worst of all society. He says that society is in fact guilty for the ignorance of those who commit sins.
It’s unclear how the Bishop spent his former life, but it seems that his sincere mercy and understanding come from having seen a lot of the world, and perhaps not always having been so saintly. His notion of societal guilt for individual sin will be taken up by other characters, and Hugo himself.
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One day the Bishop hears a criminal case about a very poor man who had coined counterfeit money to support his lover and child. The woman, the only source of proof, had been caught, and she refused to accuse her lover. Then her attorney made up a story about her lover’s infidelity, giving her scraps of supposed letters as proof. She was distraught and confessed everything, and the man was ruined. He was now waiting to be tried. The Bishop listens to this in silence, and then asks where the man will be tried. Then he asks where his attorney will be tried.
Others, especially religious people, might immediately condemn this man and woman as adulterers, fraudsters, and general sinners. Not only does the Bishop show mercy and forgiveness towards these people, but he also inverts the hierarchy of justice and injustice, such that it’s the one prosecuting the crime that should, in fact, be subject to a trial and be considered guilty.
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Not long after, a somewhat uneducated man from D--- is sentenced to death for murder, in a trial of great interest to the public. The day before the execution, 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 he is able to “see light.” The next day the Bishop mounts the scaffold with him, and the man seems calm and reconciled to his fate. As the Bishop descends from the scaffold, people admire both his deathly pale face and his calm. Some wealthier townspeople call this an act, but the regular people recognize holy deeds when they see them.
Again the Bishop inverts the usual categories and hierarchies of justice and injustice by showing compassion to a man condemned by both the law and society. He also reveals the hypocrisy of people when they show such interest in other people’s suffering, without acknowledging their own sins. This is also the first time we see how the Bishop himself struggles in trying to do good for others.
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The Bishop had been shocked to see the guillotine. The narrator goes on to show how no one can remain indifferent to the death penalty after gazing upon the scaffold—one must decide for or against it, and it doesn’t permit remaining neutral. In the days after the execution, the Bishop seems crushed and tortured. One evening his sister overhears him muttering that it is wrong to care only about divine rather than human law: men have no right to touch what is God’s alone.
This is a famous passage from Hugo, who was outspokenly against the death penalty in France. The excruciatingly detailed description of the scaffold immerses the reader in this world and challenges us to make a choice on the issue. Meanwhile the text also shows the Bishop struggling with worldly affairs.
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Myriel is often summoned to the bedsides of those who are dying, and counsels them to remain strong and hopeful for the world to come.
Just as the Bishop accompanies people through their struggles in life, he continues this until their death.
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Chapter 5 Myriel leads a monastic life, sleeping little and saying mass every morning. He is very busy, but always spends his free time caring for the sick or reading, writing, and gardening. He often walks alone, deep in thought, but every so often stops to speak to children and their mothers. To make his cassocks last longer, he always goes around in a thick purple cloak. He eats a frugal supper with his two female companions, only splurging when he has guests. At night he writes, finishing several manuscripts on biblical exegesis before the end of his life, some of which are covered with notes of praise to God scrawled in the margins.
The narrator makes a largely complete catalogue of how the Bishop spends his days—perhaps showing how even a saintly man can lead a relatively normal life, and that it’s not necessary to be extraordinary in order to be good. Hugo also shows how the Bishop’s faith in God is directly tied to his good works, even as the Bishop dismisses the worldly benefits and opportunities that are normally bestowed upon the Catholic clergy.
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Chapter 6 The Bishop sleeps on the second floor of his house, and the oratory is in the attic. It can only be reached through his bedroom, but he uses it at times to host guests. There is a stable in the backyard garden, holding two cows, and the Bishop always gives at least half their milk to the hospital. In his oratory, he has constructed an altar out of a sideboard with cheap materials. Every time the women of D---- raise money for a new altar, he takes it and gives it to the poor. Mademoiselle Baptistine would have loved to buy a set of velvet drawing-room furniture, but 500 francs is far above their budget.
Again, in any and all aspects of the Bishop’s daily life, he attempts to devote much of what he has to others. The women in D---, for instance, are not portrayed as selfish or wrong, but the fact that the Bishop goes against their desires is another piece of evidence for his radical inversion of norms and values. Mademoiselle Baptistine shows that this lifestyle isn’t always easy, but also that the things she’d like to have are ultimately unimportant.
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The Bishop’s bedchamber is simple and decorated only with crosses and two portraits of abbés. The only luxury the Bishop allows is for the house to remain sparklingly clean. However, he still retains six silver knives, forks, and a soup ladle, as well as two silver candlesticks from his former life, and admits it would be hard for him to renounce them. Madame Magloire keeps them in a small locked cupboard, though she never removes the key.
The silver candlesticks will become an important symbol in the novel, but for now, simply focus on their relationship to the Bishop’s journey from sin (though we don’t know too much about this) to redemption and goodness. They’re a reminder of how far he’s come, but also how difficult it is to give up coveting nice things.
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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, to which the Bishop responded that what is beautiful is also useful.
The Bishop is not entirely ascetic: his emphasis on beauty over usefulness is part of his broader work against utilitarian and instrumental thinking.
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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 the priest should always be open. One day another priest asked if he was ever afraid of anyone who might enter, and the Bishop said to him in Latin that “anyone but the Lord guards his house in vain.”
The Bishop’s unlocked doors represent the ease of access to truth and goodness that he hopes to promote among the people. They’re also another way he tries to break down barriers between those in power and the regular populace.
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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 villages of France, where his highway robberies and sacking of cathedrals made the news. The Bishop was doing his rounds in the area where Cravatte was hiding around this time. The Bishop claimed he would go without an escort, and that he couldn’t forsake one of his beloved mountain communities. He went alone, and arrived at a shepherd’s village, where he stayed for a month. At the end of his stay, the villagers were embarrassed not to have the correct ornaments for him to say a certain prayer, at which point two unknown horseman brought a large chest to him. It contained gold ornaments, cloths, and crosses—all stolen from a cathedral—and a note saying “From Cravatte to Monseigneur Bienvenu.” The Bishop smiled and said it must have come from God. That evening, before going to bed, he said that we should not fear robbers or murderers from without, but instead prejudice and vice from within.
Cravatte is an emblematic example of the kind of person that is usually considered to be evil, wrong, and sinful. First of all, the Bishop’s lack of fear recalls his willingness to leave his doors open. Closed doors imply both a lack of understanding and an inability to access truth and goodness. This story is also notable in that it shows the Bishop’s lack of surprise or confusion when faced with unexpected events. Cravatte most likely meant the chest as a provocation to the Bishop, but instead of being provoked, the Bishop simply accepts the chest as a gift to him and the villagers—paradoxically putting him back in a position of power. His conclusion underlines how greater evil can be done through thought and judgment rather than just external action.
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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 infinite and eternal things and believes himself a product of Epicurus. He begins a monologue comparing Diderot to Voltaire, and expressing skepticism about Jesus’ preaching renunciation and sacrifice. He says people should simply live merrily rather than worry about life after death, since there is no such thing as good and evil. He laughs at the idea of paradise and God, saying that he’s only a piece of dust collected on earth for a time, and whatever he does will lead to nothingness, so he might as well enjoy himself.
The senator expounds on a number of elements of materialist and atheist philosophy, in a caricatured portrayal of some major thinkers from these fields. It’s not the ideas as much as the tone that Hugo clearly disapproves of. The senator is portrayed as smug and overly confident, unwilling to see the other side and eager to expose his views for the sake of controversy, rather than in the interest of discussing and arguing about them.
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The Bishop claps his hands and says this materialism is marvelous, allowing anyone who promotes it to consider himself not responsible for anything. He says it’s an agreeable philosophy, exquisite, refined, and perfect for the rich alone. But he says the rich shouldn’t begrudge the common people their belief in God, as “goose stuffed with chestnuts is the truffled turkey of the poor.”
Again, the Bishop refuses to grow angry or lose his temper when confronted with such provocations. Instead, he gains the upper hand again, especially in skirting the question so that he can once again return to his major concern: the impact of belief on the poor.
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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 discusses how good and generous her brother is, though while complaining a bit about her own privations. She writes that she used to worry about how he exposed himself to such dangers, but is now getting used to it. She has learned how to manage him as a man with “grandeur of soul.”
Mademoiselle Baptistine wouldn’t dare to challenge the Bishop. But as this letter shows, it’s taken even her a while—recall the description of her at the beginning as good and filled with light—to “understand” the Bishop, that is, to understand the radically new system of values that he’s promoting.
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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 voted for the king’s death but was still considered a “quasi-regicide” (now, twenty years later, France is again a monarchy), lives far away from the city in the countryside. He is loathed in the town, and people are pleased when a rumor spreads that G--- is now dying and won’t live to see dawn. The Bishop immediately sets out to the small, poor hut where he sees a white-haired man next to his servant, a shepherd boy. The Bishop introduces himself, and the old man recognizes him and says he expects to die in around three hours.
The Convention was the assembly during the French Revolution that sentenced Louis XVI to death and eventually guillotined him and his wife. At the time of the book’s action, especially in the countryside, French people consider “conventionnaires” absolutely evil. Once again, the Bishop challenges this judgment by going to visit this so-called evil man himself, and offering to stay by his side until the man dies.
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The Bishop, despite his modesty, is a little shocked not to be addressed as Monseigneur by G---, and feels a bit severe, while G--- watches him cordially and humbly. The Bishop thinks he looks strong, as if he’s welcoming death on purpose and freely. He sits down and congratulates the old man for not voting for the death of the king. The man stops smiling and says he did vote for the death of the tyrant—that is, for the death of ignorance. Man should only be governed by science, he says. When the Bishop adds, “and conscience,” G--- says that conscience is the innate science we have within us.
Even the Bishop is unable to entirely dismiss the social norms and expectations associated with his position. G--- immediately situates himself within the Enlightenment strain of thought that had long pushed for the end of monarchies, in the hope that reason would triumph. The Bishop suggests that there are other values just as important, if not more so, than reason.
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G--- begins to speak of his desire for the end of slavery and evil, which he promoted by voting for the Republic. He admits that they destroyed the old regime in deeds but not entirely in ideas—but he claims that the French 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 rejoins with a counterexample, such as the child who was the brother of a revolutionary and also hanged. He says that he weeps more over the children of the people, who suffered for centuries before the Revolution, than the children of the monarchy. The Bishop, G--- says, is probably one of those churchmen who revel in a large income and all the material enjoyments of life. The Bishop hangs his head and says he is only a worm, but asks what all those riches could prove about the horrors of 1793.
Throughout this exchange, the Bishop doesn’t grow angry or hostile, but neither does G---: the Bishop has perhaps met his match. Throughout the conversation, the narrator doesn’t caricature one side or show bias towards the other. Instead, the opinions of both men are laid out in a straightforward fashion. What is unmistakable is the long history of misery in France. The Bishop and G--- just take different sides concerning the causes and correct remedies for such misery. Still, the reader does know more than G---, who is unaware of the Bishop’s modesty and generosity and so judges him as another greedy, wealthy member of the clergy.
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G--- begins to compare a series of names, some of whom are revolutionaries turned evil, but others of whom are tyrants of the monarchy—making the point that there was good and evil in both parties. He says that even from the most terrible blows, the revolution found a way to support progress and 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 to tremble and weep, finally pointing a finger heavenward and saying that he believes in the infinite. He closes his eyes, and then slowly opens them. G--- tells the Bishop that he spent his life in study and contemplation, following his country when he was asked to. He tried to combat abuses and destroy tyrannies, tearing up the cloth from the altar only to care for his country. He’s always upheld the human race’s march forward. After he did his best in all this, he was hunted down, persecuted, scorned, and cursed. He has accepted this isolation, and now, at 86 years old, he asks the Bishop what he has come to ask of him. The Bishop says, “Your blessing,” and bends down. When he stands up again G--- has died. From then on the Bishop seems to be more thoughtful, sinking into silence whenever G--- is mentioned.
Even G--- acknowledges that the revolution was not perfect, and that evils were done on both sides. But he still believes that revolution is good and necessary in order to achieve progress. The Bishop, in turn, doesn’t deny the need for progress, but questions the extent to which revolution can achieve it, or whether what a revolution can achieve is worth it. It’s difficult to know how to interpret G---‘s pause and pointing to the sky—even the Bishop seems willing to accept this as a unknown factor. The Bishop ultimately chooses not to engage with G--- in his final, emotional speech, perhaps because this is a dying man, but also perhaps because the Bishop acknowledges much of what G--- has said to be true. This conversation only strengthens the Bishop’s desire to work against dogma, combat easy answers, and refuse judgment.
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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. To understand the Bishop’s attitude towards political events in France, the narrator takes us back to the 1811 assembly of French and Italian bishops, following the 1809 arrest of the Pope. The Bishop was not exactly at home in this group, and he remarks on the luxury of his colleagues while there are still poor people in the world. The Bishop believes that the priest’s first proof of charity is poverty. Nevertheless, he is not one to enter into contemporary theological quarrels, and is generally disapproving of Napoleon. He has two sergeant brothers whom he writes to regularly, though one had not done his best in pursuing the escaping Emperor Napoleon. The Bishop disapproved of this.
In the conversations with G---and with the senator, both men brought up some major philosophical issues, to which the Bishop largely responded with appeals to conscience, generosity, and the poor. Indeed, we see here that the Bishop isn’t exactly an intellectual—in fact, he doesn’t feel at home among them. Thus the narrator makes a claim against intellectualism and for simplicity in order to be a good, moral person. Even a priest, we’re asked to believe, doesn’t need to be a philosophical theologian in order to do good works.
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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 protest becomes less justifiable against a weak, powerless Napoleon. It can be a crime to applaud and to condemn the same man, depending on the time and place.
Here, for the first time, the narrator distinguishes his own beliefs from those of the Bishop. The Bishop condemns Napoleon, while the narrator has an even a more nuanced, less judgmental attitude towards him (using the Bishop’s own method).
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The Bishop is tolerant overall, however. There was a porter of the town-hall placed by the Emperor, who, after Napoleon’s fall, refused to wear royal markers and would scoff aloud at Louis XVII. Finally, he was fired and his family grew hungry, so the Bishop appointed him usher in the cathedral.
Whatever the Bishop’s political views, ultimately he considers people as valuable human beings regardless of what they may believe, as is revealed by this example.
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Chapter 12 The narrator notes that most bishops have a whole parade of officials and 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. He is thus very isolated. The narrator notes that the philosophy of success has won out in society, so that you can win in the lottery or be born with a silver spoon and be considered clever and of great merit. People claw to success based on luck, accident, greed, or sin, and are considered men of genius.
The Bishop is contrasted to other members of the clergy, who are not exempt from the jockeying for position that characterizes so many other aspects of social life. This also allows the narrator to promote a socially liberal philosophy—in which people are responsible for each other—over a philosophy of individual hard work and success, which he considers to be a myth.
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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 and good works. The Bishop rarely grows angry or indignant. As a young man, he had been passionate and violent, but he changed because of a growing conviction in the right way to live. In 1815 he turns 75, though he seems younger.
Again, the narrator repeats the distinction between theological preeminence and goodness in works and action. This is revealed not only in how the Bishop acts towards others, but also in how he carries himself—something that, we learn, can be changed over the course of someone’s life.
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When the Bishop speaks he seems joyful and at ease, but when he is alone and in thought he grows serious and calm. His days pass in a flurry of study, work, and charity, though he always spends time in the garden before bed. He thinks about the great mysteries of eternity and infinity as he works, and then sits on a garden bench: this is all he needs to adore God.
The narrator returns to the daily details of the Bishop’s life, emphasizing once again that he is able to pause over beauty. Enjoyment of minor, simple aspects of life seems to be an important part of the Bishop’s overall goodness.
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Chapter 14 The Bishop refrains from thinking too hard about the insoluble problems of life and the universe. He is not a genius, but instead is content to adore God and follow the Gospels. He sees sickness and suffering everywhere but is drawn towards it, feeling tenderness and pity and continuing to profess love. He leaves to the side the terrifying questions to which there are no human answers. He takes note of the exterior of these questions, and respects them, but they are not a central part of his life or thought.
By stressing the fact that the Bishop is not an intellectual, the narrator makes a case for simplicity and goodness rather than flashy, impressive diction or great fame. His faith, the narrator suggests, is made stronger rather than weaker in turning away from theological mysteries and toward daily misery. This is also, of course, what Hugo’s book sets out to do.
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