Les Misérables roughly follow the life of Jean Valjean after he is released from prison. After the release, he is bitter at the world for having being jailed for only stealing some bread to feed his sister's child. Whenever he could find a little work, he was underpaid. Almost nobody gave him lodging, so he slept in the gutter. (In that time period in France, those on parole were required to show a yellow card signifying this.) Eventually, a kind, old bishop (the Bishop of Digne) brings Valjean into his home, feeds him well, and allows him to stay the night.

However, while eating dinner, Valjean notices the fine silver utensils (the only things of monetary value the bishop owns), and calculates that he can sell them for lots of money. That night, when the bishop and his aide are sleeping, he nabs the silverware. He almost kills the bishop on his way out, but decides not to when he sees the moonlight shadow of a cross on the bishop's peaceful face.

Some guards notice Valjean's suspicious behavior, stop him, and see that he has the bishop's possessions. They bring him back, and the bishop thanks the guards for bringing him back, because Valjean forgot the candlesticks, the most costly item. The bishop then tells a confused Valjean to remember this event, and become an honest man.

Years later, we find a rich Valjean has (honestly) worked his way up to become the mayor of a town and the owner of a major (and only?) factory there, which mostly employs people that weren't accepted elsewhere. (He used to brain to invent a much better way of manufacturing beads.) One time, somebody got injured in a cart accident (a wheel broke), and while others stood by and watched the man get his leg crushed, Valjean used his strength (which he got from rock work, while in jail) to save the guy. Javert saw this, and thought out loud how Valjean's strength reminded him of some lowlife he once watched in jail. Valjean inquired about this, and learned that Javert already caught Valjean, who was acting like a simpleton, and claimed he didn't know who Valjean was.

The real Valjean's conscious made him go to the trial and tell the court that he was Valjean. He was able to leave, because everyone was stunned that the famous mayor was actually a common criminal.

Anyway, somewhere along the line, he saved Fantine from being arrested, but wasn't able to prevent her from dying. But before she did, he promised to take care of Cosette, her little girl. After confessing to the court, he got Cosette, fled to a monastery, and hid there for years. One time, when they were taking their walk outside the monastery, Cosette and Marius noticed each other. Normally, this wouldn't be a big deal, but Marius is also involved in the student uprising. Eventually, Valjean goes into the barricade, and carries him to safety after everyone else is shot. (He again used his brain and escaped via the sewers.)

When Marius heals, he marries Cosette. However, he discovers some of Valjean's past (such as the part about being a thief), so he pushes Valjean away.

Eventually, Thénadier (your general all-around scum) sells Marius information about Valjean. (Thénadier gained Marius's trust because Marius's father incorrectly thought he was saved by Thénadier during a previous war.) Thénadier says that he saw Valjean carrying a dead body on his shoulders on the night of the ill-fated student uprising. As proof, Thénadier shows a ring that he stole off the corpse. However, Marius recognizes this as his ring, and realizes that Valjean saved his life and saw Thénadier for his real self.

Marius wants to apologize to Valjean so brings Cosette to visit Valjean. Valjean knows he will not be on earth much longer, so he gives them a complete written account his life. He then passes away and, due to his faith, is lead to salvation.

So my question to you is: Who are the real "misérables"?
Is it the Thénadiers, whose greed (sometimes) pays off while they're alive?
Or is it the ones Thénadiers take advantage of, but are faithful to the Holy Trinity?

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