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The Intrusive Narrator

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  • Pages: 2
  • Word count: 418
  • Category: Ethics

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“Monsieur to a convict is a glass of water to a man dying of thirst at sea. Ignominy thirsts for respect.” (19)| Here, Victor Hugo further expands upon the concept of mistreatment of convicts by describing how the continuous abuse by society on all different levels leaves these people longing for respect. Even a minor detail, such as being called monsieur, can go a long way for a person starved of respect. | “To be wicked does not insure prosperity…” (46)| When the narrator says this, he means to explain that although one can cheat and lie, this will not lead to success. Hugo uses the Thenardiers’ inn as the archetype of an immoral business that eventually went to ruins due to mismanagement of the ill-gained money and helps the reader see how readily a business built on trickery can crumble.| “It would seem, indeed, that there is in certain men the veritable instinct of a beast, pure and complete like all instinct, which creates antipathies and sympathies…” (56)| In this extended interruption of the story, the intrusive narrator goes to the extent of dedicating a whole paragraph to describing the primal instinct present in beasts and humans alike that differentiates good from evil.

Furthermore, the narrator rambles on about the automatic sense of perception that some people have that allows them to recognize right and wrong from a distance to help the reader visualize how easily Javert saw through the guise of mayor that Jean Valjean had created for himself to hide the fact that he had been a prisoner.| “When the population is suffering, when there is a lack of work, when trade falls off, the tax-payer, constrained by poverty, resists taxation, exhausts and overruns the delays allowed by law, and the government is forced to incur large expenditures in the costs of levy and collections…” (61-62)| Victor Hugo once again interrupts the flow of the story to this time explain, in an awfully long tirade, how the prosperity, or lack thereof, of economy correlates directly with the decrease and increase of taxing, respectively.

The narrator probably does this so that the reader can better understand how changed the situation was in M—— sur M—— for Fantine since she left for Paris. When she left, the city was in really poor condition with the high taxes and terrible economy; however, upon her return, she observes that the economy has improved vastly now, consequently leading to lower taxes, hence a more comfortable life.

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