History of Paris
Les Miserables is a classic epic written by Victor Hugo. It highlights a flamboyant representation of Paris after the French revolution and the strict ruling of Napoleon Bonaparte. Victor Hugo portrays the city as a microcosm of humankind. He looks at challenges experienced at all levels of society. Specifically, he points out injustices which are endured by members of the society who are poor. In ‘the year 1817’ he depicts the manner in which the under-served France social structure during the 19th century turns good people into criminals. France went through extended revolution period with Paris which was the center of displeasure and which witnessed a couple of ruthless rulers (kings, presidents and dictators). Hugo asserts Paris was exposed to abuse of power and this lead to the rampant conflict of class between the rich and poor. The leaders of the government took advantage of the state of things in order to increase the level of suffering among the poor (Behm 39).
Paris, at that time was a city with no common structure buildings and every street existed on its own. The doors of houses were made from boards that were warm eaten bound with crossbeams which were similar to hewn logs. The windows were adequately eminent and large adorned with venetian blinds. Majority of the buildings were demolished during the uprising and were yet to be reconstructed. Paris did not have any gas jets, it was all lanterns which were placed at regular intervals to light up the city. The streets did not have people. Majority of the buildings were also deserted and Jean Valjean would walk alone with Cossette. Buildings which were dismantled served as sheds (Anderson 12).
Paris transformation started with renovation of the existing urban fabric. Streets got transformed to function in 2 directions. This, according to Hugo made various locations within the city accessible. He asserts there are parts of the city which have changed from the top to the bottom. Hugo says he “found himself situated between Faubourg Saint Antoine and la Rapee one of those which recent improvements have transformed from top to bottom, resulting in disfigurement according to some, and in transfiguration according to others” (Hugo).
According to him, Paris was spreading more than twenty five million wastes into the water in a year. This prompted construction of the drainage system. He claims the systems were essential resources that had to be taken seriously. Further, he asserts the history of a man is reflected in the history of sewers. Additionally, he argues any great city is known for making dunk. Paris started making fleet of vessels and dunks which were dispatches to collect waste and they could not pollute the sea anymore. He says, “All human and animal manure which the world wastes, restored to the land instead of being cast into the water, would suffice to nourish the world” (Hugo 25)
The drainage system in Paris was started at the start of the 16th century. Henry II made the attempt to set off but never succeeded. During the 19th century start, the Paris sewer was mystifying. Drainage was never treated and was openly discharged openly to systems that was water filled and which led to main rivers. The function of cleaning was entrusted to the rain. The old society knew the leaders bore the blame for failing to put up proper sewerage systems and they began to clean the system. Currently the system of drainage in Paris is proper and clean. Hugo states, “the present sewer is a beautiful sewer; the pure style reigns there; the classical rectilinear alexandrine which, driven out of poetry, appears to have taken refuge in architecture” (Hugo 34). He believes sewers of Paris in 1832 could not be anywhere close to the sewers of present day. There no longer pose killer disease like cholera in Paris today as they did during the 19th century. Now, there are convex shaped streets as opposed to causeways that are sunken. Paris, used to have just three absorbing well (Combat, Cunette and Saint Mande) but in the last quarter of the century, they were expanded (Curley 208)
Parisians have responded to modernization and articulated optimism as well as anxiety over a couple of projects not completed. These characters depicted in the text, inhabited a city that was ideal for human survival. Jean Valjean suffers throughout the text for a minor crime which was stealing a loaf so as to feed his family. Paris is not yet ready to mingle with ex-convicts who have made confessions. In that duration, the mentioned characters in the text inhabit an environment that is characterized by an expanding political turbulence, philosophical uproar and social prejudices. Inspector Javert is also not ready to make acknowledgement for transgressing the law regardless of the situation. He is representation of punitive secular impartiality since he follows Jean for the rest of his life. These social injustices have already been forgotten and now, Paris is a city that has respect for human rights.
Anderson, James M. Daily Life during the French Revolution. Westport, Conn: Greenwood, 2007. Print.
Behrn Edward. The Complete Book of Les Miserables. New York: Arcade Publishing. 1993. Print.
Curley, Robert. The Britannica Guide to Inventions That Changed the Modern World. New York: Britannica Educational Pub, 2010. Print.
Hugo, Victor. Les Misérables: 1, 3/4. Ravensburg: Grinverl, 2009. Print.