Hunchback of Notre Dame vs. Les Misérables

Now that I have read both of Victor Hugo’s masterpieces, I decided to compare and contrast them. I was led to read Les Misérables because of my love for the musical.

Tangents:

With Les Misérables, I disliked reading them more than reading them in Hunchback of Notre Dame. In Hunchback of Notre Dame, they were much shorter and more interesting to read because they mostly were about architecture. With Les Misérables, those tangents were much more political and even longer. But with both, I understand that these tangents helped you understand the setting better.

Plot:

As expected, both of the books had a tragic, but beautiful plot. Both of these plots focused on the lowest of society. They represented things such as gypsies, criminals, disabled, and the improvised so they had a similar representation when it comes to the lowest rung. Both of these plots may be tragic, but they are beautiful. They each focused on love. Hunchback of Notre Dame had a much bigger focus on romantic love than Les Misérables. Hunchback of Notre Dame’s entire plot dealt with a love square of sorts since three men loved the same women. But with Les Misérables, it represented so many areas of love such as love for God, love for a child/parents, romantic love in the form of a love triangle, love for the country, and love for friends. So Les Misérables focused on more areas of love. I actually loved Les Misérables’ plot more than Hunchback of Notre Dame’s plot.

Characters:

I strongly disliked the antagonist, Frollo, in Hunchback of Notre because he was so evil and so dark and he responded to his unrequited love in very phantomesque ways. As far as Les Misérables’ antagonist, Javert, I loved him much more. At least Javert wasn’t exactly evil or morally twisted because he kept on trying to the right thing even if he saw the world in black and white. But Les Misérables’ does have two major characters who are quite despicable, who are the Thenardiers. Both of the tales had a character who dealt with unrequited love in a selfless kind of way, who were Quasimodo and Eponine. For me it was very hard to figure out who Hunchback of Notre Dame’s protagonist was, but I want to say it was Quasimodo and what was interesting about him is that he was disabled due to being both deaf and have a hunchback. Being deaf did leave at a disadvantage such as when the mob tried to rescue Esmeralda, he thought they were trying to cause harm to Esmeralda so he attacked them not understanding their actual intentions, but he still acted selflessly for his love for Esmeralda. Les Misérables’ protagonist, Jean Valjean, goes on such an incredible journey from this harsh and hateful man to this compassionate and saint-like man and his journey is wonderful to watch.

Ratings;

Hunchback of Notre Dame: 7/10

I gave this a 7/10 because I struggled with understanding the plot. It felt forever till I picked up on the plot and I already was halfway done with the book when it finally picked off. It spent about fifty page or so on Pierre, who is quite a minor character. Also as excepted, you were given background information about some of the characters for some time so it took a while to understand what was going on. It is hard for me to fully describe why I loved this plot.

Les Misérables: 12/10

Okay, why on earth would a book give me a 12/10 rating. Even though like Hunchback of Notre Dame, it felt forever till the plot kicked off, the story was exceptional. This heartbreaking storyline has this beautiful underlying spirituality. It is this beautiful story of how this ex-convict was given a second chance, which led him to redemption. Jean Valjean after being encountered with the bishop, he began to have this strong spirit and helped those in need. He saved Fantine from being arrested and agreed to raise her daughter, he rescued Marius, and he turned himself in when an innocent man was accused of being him and so on. The story overall made up for those incredibly long tangents. It has many more characters I love than in Hunchback of Notre Dame. I loved how selflessly Fantine was towards her daughter, which is why she had to do what she had to do after being fired and she trusted Valjean enough to raise Cosette. The passion the students have for France, especially in the case of Enjolras, is wonderful and I just love how they take in Gavroche, who is Eponine’s little brother.

Eponine, the Thenardiers’ daughter, is not fully like her parents and showed true love towards Marius and her love for him made her become a better person and even though she led him to the barricades to die with him, she still saved his life and she got to die happy because Marius was there. I love what Cosette represents in the overall story and that is hope. She had hope when she was a child that she would be rescued from her life of abuse and later her love for Marius brings hope to the story. As far as Marius goes, he is so complex and is capable of so much compassion. Les Misérables represents all aspects of society and the story is so human.

What do you think? Have you read both or one of these books? Of the two, which one do you like more and why?

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What Caused Me to Love Classical Literature?

Well, as some may know that this summer I am reading Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. But what exactly is about the classics that makes me love them so much. I feel like part of the answer starts from how I was raised.

Well, I was raised watching A Christmas Carol every Christmas Break. So I was already exposed to at least one classic as a child. I learned to fall in love with the story early on so I think that is a big reason why I love the classics now.

But I honestly think a big reason why I love the classics might mostly have to do with Les Misérables. Yes, this list is talking about classical literature, but it is important to talk about the musical of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. Well, in December of 2012 my parents took me to the movie adaptation and little did I know that the musical was about to really change and impact my life in such a positive way.  The first time I saw the movie, I had no clue how to respond. I was confused and shocked when I realized it was a tragedy, which was figured out after the first death. As a result, I did not how to respond so due to that I had no clue if I liked the movie or not.

Despite that, I still started researching information about Victor Hugo and the musical. I soon decided that I just had to see the movie a second time. That was how I realized there was something special about the tragedy. I really wanted to know why it uplifts me in such a positive way despite all of the heartbreak I just felt. So I dug even deeper into the musical. I realized that it was a story of hope, love, compassion, forgiveness, humanity, sacrifice, and redemption.

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So I eventually decided that I just had to read the novel. I started with the abridged version. I enjoyed it that round, but felt like something was absolutely missing.  So I told myself that I needed to read the book again, but in the unabridged version. So when I read the unabridged version summer of 2015, I read the unabridged version and I did not skip over anything. The book truly felt like a masterpiece and the spirituality of the story was clearly shown. If it wasn’t for the spirituality of the story, I feel like I would be sick and tried of it by now. What was helpful in reading this book was my knowledge of the musical. Due to that, I could mark up major character and write in songs.

Due to loving Les Mis, my dad recommended me to read Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. So Les Mis led me to having the interest to read another classic. I read it and really enjoyed it. It was confusing at times because it was hard to tell if you were in France or in England. I enjoyed it, but couldn’t think of the reason why. It takes place during the French Revolution, which happens right before the events before Les Mis.

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Since Les Mis led to Tale of Two Cities, it also in a way led to Great Expectation. Because I learned to love Tale of Two Cities, the second Dickens story I fell in love with, I was recommended to read Great Expectations. I loved the character of Pip in Great Expectations and never could understand why I loved him. So Les Mis was essential to my love of the classics. If it wasn’t for Les Mis, I wouldn’t have wanted to read other Dickens books. I read Great Expectations Christmas of 2016. I wanted to review it on this blog, but couldn’t figure out why I enjoyed that book. The last Dickens book I was recommend is Nicholas Nickleby.

My dad also recommend me to check out Don Quixote. Les Mis did not lead me to Don Quixote, but led me to wanting to explore other classics. For a Spanish project at school, I choose Don Quixote to research since my dad recommended it to me. The moment I saw that Don Quixote was a tragicomic character, I knew I had to read the book. I loved the story of the knight errant righting all wrongs and the relationship to his squire. Well the school project did lead me to watching Man of La Mancha, the musical based off of Don Quixote. I actually read the book Summer of 2016 and I actually found it harder to read than Les Mis even though it was much shorter. That is due to hardly knowing Don Quixote at the time.

Now I am currently reading Oliver Twist, which I started last Saturday. I currently read close to 200 pages. I am loving the book as a matter of fact. I am especially fond of the character of Oliver. Last Christmas, I was going to read what classic I got. I asked for Oliver Twist or Hunchback of Notre Dame. What book I got would be the book I would read this summer and the other one would wait until Christmas. Dickens and Hugo have incredible parallels in their storylines, which I will talk about in another upcoming post of mine. After I finish Oliver Twist if I can come up with enough reasons why I loved it, I will review it.

So in a nutshell, A Christmas Carol did in a way shape my love for the classics since it was the first one I was exposed to. But Les Mis really brought out my love for the classics. I feel like I love the classics due to how challenging they are. All of them also seem to be well written. I read the classics in between semesters because I am able to find time to read them and focus on them. I feel like I might need to read some of the classics one more time, but in a longer amount of time. Les Mis and Christmas Carol were essential to falling in love with the classics.

What are your feelings on the classics?

Classic Book Challenge

This week was finals week and I got to go back to my hometown yesterday. Today starts the beginning of summer break. Every summer break, I enjoyed spending time with my family.

I like to read as well. In between semesters, I always do a challenge with books that are classic. I attempt to start and finish them by the end of the break. This summer break’s book is Oliver Twist. Some of the classic books I read were books that were recommended by others and some were not.

The ones that were never recommended were Les Misérables and Oliver Twist. I actually read the entire Les Misérables in less than one summer. It was my love for the musical that gave me the courage to read the unabridged book. I honestly have no idea what made me decide to read Oliver Twist at some point. I think it might have something to do with Les Misérables because the musical of Oliver inspired the lyricist to make a musical of the book.

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My dad recommend Don Quixote, Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. He recommended me to read Tale of Two Cities due to my love for Les Mis because the book takes place during the French Revolution and that event happened before the events in Les Mis took place. He even knew that I should read Great Expectations as well because I love Charles Dickens. My dad told me some about Don Quixote and I think he told me about the nature of him being a knight errant and told me about his squire, Sancho Panza. I eventually did a project in school about Don Quixote and was fascinated in reading the book after discovering that Don quixote is a tragicomic character, a type of character I never discovered before.

So why do I attempt to read the classics in a short period of time? Well during the school year, it is too hard to read a classic due to how challenging they are. So the only time I can actually read them is in between semesters. Also giving me a goal of when to finish them gives the motivation to continue reading. Look at Don Quixote and Les Misérables: they were the longest classics I read and finished them in one summer. There are days while reading these classics that made it much harder to read them.

So this summer’s challenge belongs to Oliver Twist.

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