Parallels Between Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo

Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo are two of the most well-known authors. They have written some of my favorite classic books. But I cannot help, but see many parallels between their works, which might explain why I love both of these authors.

Dickens and Hugo tend to focus on the lower rungs of society. True, I read more Dickens books than Hugo, but it still is very obvious. The title, Les Misérables, means the downtrodden, the fugitives, and the outsiders. Les Misérables is home to the prostitute Fantine, the criminal Thenardiers, the impoverished Eponine, daughter of the Thenardiers, and orphan Cosette among others. Even though those are major characters, it does show impoverished citizens as well. Even in the case of the students, they fighting to stand up against the weak government since the government doesn’t care much about the poor.

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But in Dickens’, writing, two protagonists are actually poor. In Oliver Twist, Oliver is an orphan and was raised in poor conditions due to the poor conditions of the workhouses. And then later, after running away,  he comes across the two villains, Fagin and Bill Sikes, who hope to turn Oliver into a criminal. In Great Expectations as a matter of fact, Pip is also impoverished and he is the main character. While the main character in A Christmas Carol isn’t poor, the Cratchit family is very poor and that is difficult due to Tiny Tim being crippled. It is a bit hard to explain why Tale of Two Cities has the lower rungs of society.

So why do both authors tend to focus on criminals, the poor, prostitutes, orphans, and any person that would be on the lowest rungs of society? Well, when Dickens and Hugo wrote their books, both England and France were recovering from the most recent revolutions. England was recovering from the Revolutionary War and France was recovering from the French Revolution. In the time they wrote, they wrote in the style of Romanticism and one key aspect is the style liked to focus on the emotions. Both authors liked to focus on the them of redemption.

The reason why I am drawn to both Dickens and Hugo is because I have drawn to stories that focus on the lowest rungs of society due to a passion I have for helping that community. Dickens is much easier to read than Victor Hugo because Dickens doesn’t interrupt the plot with long history lessons. Hugo likes to constantly interrupt the plot with boring history lessons and that is the one downside to reading Victor Hugo. The next Hugo book I plan to read is Hunchback of Notre Dame and the next Dickens book I plan to read is Nicholas Nickleby.

Why do you think there are parallels between the two authors.

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Author: mphadventuregirl

I am a strong spiritual person who is a big fan of musicals. This blog deals with spirituality and musicals. I am finding that by writing about these, I am realizing I know more about each of them then I think I do. I hope you find my blog inspiring!

18 thoughts on “Parallels Between Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo”

  1. I’ve always been fascinated with how their writings were their ways of trying to change the world and how their writings greatly made people to be aware of the situations around them and wake up from their ignorance! They both were absolutely amazing authors and I think that the things they achieved through their writings are absolutely miraculous!

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    1. Dickens was key to me falling in love with the classics. When you grow up on A Christmas Carol, that makes sense. Hugo came so much later than Dickens-definatley was in I think 2013, just trying to remember when I realized Les Mis was a book.

      Hugo actually wrote his Les Mis through what he observed, which is why that tale feels so human. Both authors wrote about real situations in their books and were skilled at bringing out emotion and emotion is important when it comes to telling a story

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      1. Absolutely. I think that Dickens was my first introduction to classics and I remember reading A Christmas Carol in fourth grade and falling in love with it. In eighth grade my class had to read it and we went to see the musical in downtown Seattle for a field trip so I have a lot of good memories with A Christmas Carol.
        I definitely think one of the strengths of Hugo and Dickens is their use of their own experiences and observations in their writings. It definitely adds an element of realness to their writings!

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      2. I actually never read A Christmas Carol. All I have done with it is watch the movie. One time when ushering for Children’s Theatre, I did see Scrooge, the musical version and did forget what the songs sounded like.

        My classics collection has been dominated with Dickens. I now own Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations. Of all the classics authors I read, it seems Dickens has the most book

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      3. Dickens definitely did write a lot of books! I’ve only read Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, and A Tale of Two Cities. I have Hard Times and Great Expectations on my shelves but I haven’t read them yet

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      4. Never read the book cause I know the sheer volume of it is too much for me lol!
        Saw the musical, fell in love with it. Like you’ve said, the characters’ tales feels so real and relatable!

        There’s a reason why-
        **NOTE**
        **SPOILER FOR LES MISERABLES**

        People cry when Jean Valjean passed away at the end. That scene in the movie was just sad and beautiful at the same time. Coupled with the music? JUST WOW!

        **END OF SPOILER**
        ———————————–

        Great article here! You’ve really touched on the plots of the different works nicely and on point. Interesting to have a little sneak peek into the crafting process of the the art eh? Always fun and enlightening to learn about the history of such masterpieces.

        Thank you for sharing 🙂

        Your pal,
        Benjamin
        http://www.projectbiy.com
        http://www.prometheustechnologies.wordpress.com

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      5. I actually read it summer of 2015, the same summer I saw the show in the West End. The knowledge of the musical and love for the musical was the motivation to push through it even in the boring history parts. Since I knew the musical so well, I was able to follow along what was happening and mark up major character and actually write in songs

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic article! Being a fan of Romanticism, and the works of Dickens and Hugo, your thoughts really struck a cord with me. In fact, Dickens and Hugo are two of my favorite authors. I can’t believe the similarities of them writing about the poor and the oppressed never struck me until you brought it up, but it’s true. I would say that Les Miserables and Great Expectations are two of the greatest novels ever written. I’ll have to read more of your articles. I like the way you think.

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    1. I grew up with Dickens-every year for Christmas, I watched A Christmas Carol with my family. The Dickens books I have read-I didn’t read any until I think-I don’t remember, but it was 2014 or 2015 when I read A Tale of Two Cities over Christmas Break and in 2016 Christmas Break read Great Expectations and this summer, I read Oliver Twist.

      My favorite of the classics is Les Misérables. I wouldn’t have picked up that book if it wasn’t for the musical. My love for the story and characters began with the musical, which is what inspired me to read the book, the actual unabridged book in summer of 2015 and I finished it in less than one summer and to get through, I used my knowledge of the musical and applied the book back to the musical and marked up songs and underlined. So it did help that I previously knew the story-think about it: the story is mammoth in book length, which explains why the musical is 3 hrs long.

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