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50 Timeless Quotes From Les Misérables

50 Timeless Quotes From Les Misérables

Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is a timeless epic of love, loss, and revolution. Set during the French Revolution, this tale depicts the vast suffering of France’s lower classes, and highlights a former prisoner’s attempts to bring love and justice back into daily life.

Though the book is worth reading, the musical is what really brought out the story’s depth and stole our hearts. It’s subsequent films have helped solidify Les Mis as a masterpiece of artistic creation. Here are just a few timeless lines from the book, musical, and films.

Love

1. “Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is this way that love begins, and in this way only.” – Victor Hugo, book

2. “To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing more.” – Victor Hugo, book

3. “The silver in my hand costs twice what I had earned in all those nineteen years, that lifetime of despair, and yet he trusted me.” – Jean Valjean, musical

4. “You who suffer because you love, love still more. To die of love is to love by it.” – Victor Hugo, book

5. “Life’s great happiness is to be convinced we are loved.” – Victor Hugo, book

6. “Yet why did I allow that man to touch my soul and teach me love? He treated me like any other, he gave me his trust, he called me brother.” – Jean Valjean, musical & film

7. “She did not ask him; did not even think where and how he had managed to get into the garden. It seemed so natural to her that he should be there…When they had finished, when they had told each other everything, she laid her head on his shoulder, and asked him: ‘What is your name?’ ‘My name is Marius,’ he said. ‘And yours?’ ‘My name is Cosette.’” – Victor Hugo, book

8. “Love is the foolishness of men, and the wisdom of God.” – Victor Hugo, book

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9. “To die for lack of love is horrible. The asphyxia of the soul.” – Victor Hugo, book

10. “You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving. The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness. We pardon to the extent that we love. Love is knowing that even when you are alone, you will never be lonely again, and great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves, and even loved in spite of ourselves.” – Victor Hugo, book

11. “And remember, the truth that once was spoken: to love another person is to see the face of God.” – Victor Hugo, book; Fantine, Jean Valjean & Eponine, musical & film

12. “Love almost replaces thought. Love is a burning forgetfulness of everything else.” – Victor Hugo, book

13. “If no one loved, the sun would go out.” – Victor Hugo, book

Suffering

14. “There is a point at which the unfortunate and the infamous are associated and confounded in a single word, a fatal word, Les Misérables.” – Victor Hugo, book

15. “People weighed down with troubles do not look back; they know only too well that misfortune stalks them.” – Victor Hugo, book

16. “Look down, look down, don’t look them in the eye. Look down, look down, you’re here until you die. Look down, look down, Sweet Jesus hear my prayer. Look down, look down, Sweet Jesus doesn’t care.” – Jean Valjean & prisoners, musical & film

17. “They gave me a number and they murdered Valjean.” – Jean Valjean, musical & film

18. “At the end of the day you’re another day older, and that’s all you can say for the life of the poor.” – Poor extras, musical & film

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19. “There is always more misery among the lower classes than there is humanity in the higher.” – Victor Hugo, book

20. “I dreamed a dream in time gone by, when hope was high and life worth living. I dreamed that love would never die. I dreamed that God would be forgiving… But the tigers come at night, with their voices soft as thunder, as they tear your hope apart, as they turn your dream to shame! … But there are dreams that cannot be, and there are storms we cannot weather! I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living. So different now than what it seemed. Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.” – Fantine, musical & film

21. “There is a castle on a cloud. I like to go there in my sleep. Aren’t any floors for me to sweep, not in my castle on a cloud. There is a room that’s full of toys. There are 100 boys and girls. Nobody shouts or talks too loud. Not on my castle on a cloud.” – Cosette (young), musical & film

22. “Now prisoner 24601, your time is up and your parole’s begun. You know what that means?” “Yes, it means I’m free.” “No. Follow to the letter your itinerary, this badge of shame you wear until you die. It warns that you’re a dangerous man.” “I stole a loaf of bread. My sister’s child was close to death, and we were starving.” – Javert & Jean Valjean, film

23. “Oh, my friends! My friends, don’t ask me what your sacrifice was for! Empty chairs at empty tables, where my friends shall sing no more.” – Marius, musical & film

24. “If there’s a God in heaven, He would let me die instead.” – Fantine, musical & film

25. “Despair is surrounded by fragile walls, which all open into vice or crime.” – Victor Hugo, book

Hope

26. “The day begins and now let’s see what this new world will do for me.” – Jean Valjean, book, musical & film

27. “Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face.” – Victor Hugo, book

28. “‘The most beautiful of altars,’ he said, ‘is the soul of an unhappy creature consoled and thanking God.'” – Victor Hugo quoting the Bishop, book

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29. “I am reaching, but I fall, and the night is closing in, as I stare into the void, into the whirlpool of my sin. I’ll escape now from the world, from the world of Jean Valjean. Jean Valjean is nothing now! Another story must begin!” – Jean Valjean, musical & film

30. “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” – Victor Hugo, book; Cast, musical & film

31. “There is nothing like a dream to create future.” – Victor Hugo, book

32. “Red, the blood of angry men. Black, the dark of ages past. Red, a world about to dawn. Black, the night that ends at last!” – Enjolras, Marius & revolutionaries, musical & film

33. “Do you hear the people sing, singing the song of angry men? It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again. When the beating of your heart echoes the beating the beating of the drums, there is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!” – Enjolras, Marius & revolutionaries, musical & film

34. “Beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see? Then join in the fight that will give you the right to be free!” – Revolutionaries, musical & film

35. “Citizens, in the future there shall be neither darkness nor thunderbolts, neither ferocious ignorance nor blood for blood…In the future no man will slay his fellow, the earth will be radiant, the human race will love. It will come, citizens, that day when all shall be concord, harmony, light, joy, and life.” – Enjolras, book

36. “In all his trials he felt encouraged and sometimes even upheld by a secret force within. The soul helps the body, and at certain moments raises it. It is the only bird that sustains its cage.” – Victor Hugo, book

Philosophy

37. “It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.” – Victor Hugo, book

38. “Not being heard is no reason for silence.” – Victor Hugo, book

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39. “If I speak, I am condemned. If I stay silent, I am damned!” – Jean Valjean, book, musical & film

40. “If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.” – Victor Hugo, book

41. “My life he claims for God above. Can such things be? For I had come to hate the world, this world that always hated me.” – Jean Valjean, musical & film

42. “The future has several names. For the weak, it is impossible; for the fainthearted, it is unknown; but for the valiant, it is ideal.” – Victor Hugo, book

43. “Before him he saw two roads, both equally straight; but he did see two; and that terrified him – he who had never in his life known anything but one straight line. And, bitter anguish, these two roads were contradictory.” – Victor Hugo, book

44. “Nobody knows like a woman how to say things that are both sweet and profound. Sweetness and depth, this is all of woman; this is Heaven.” – Victor Hugo, book

45. “The pupil dilates in darkness and in the end finds light, just as the soul dilates in misfortune and in the end finds God.” – Victor Hugo, book

46. “Let us study things that are no more. It is necessary to understand them, if only to avoid them.” – Victor Hugo, book

47. “If you wish to understand what Revolution is, call it Progress; and if you wish to understand what Progress is, call it Tomorrow.” – Victor Hugo, book

48. “To owe life to a malefactor . . . to be, in spite of himself, on a level with a fugitive from justice . . . to betray society in order to be true to his own conscience; that all these absurdities . . . should accumulate on himself – this is what prostrated him.” – Victor Hugo, book

49. “Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn’t every war fought between men, between brothers?” – Victor Hugo, book

50. “Great perils share this beauty that they bring to light the fraternity of strangers.” – Victor Hugo, book

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

You know how this looks:

  • Parents constantly comparing children.
  • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Adultery…
  • And many others.

For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

How to fix a dysfunctional family

In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

Dysfunctional… Or just average?

Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of interest and time spent together
  • Sexism
  • Utilitarianism
  • Lack of empathy
  • Unequal or unfair treatment
  • Disrespect towards boundaries
  • Control Issues
  • Jealousy
  • Verbal and physical abuse
  • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

How to turn it around

When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

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As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

Correction is possible

In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

Verbalize it.

All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

Putting it to work in real life

In real life it would be something like this:

“OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

Or:

“Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

Or:

“Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

This is what you have to remember:

1-Stop.

2-Why it’s wrong?

3-What you need.

And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

It’s a family thing

A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

In other words, you will need cooperation…

So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

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We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

It’s not a free-for-all battle

In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

The method

1. Drop the ego

Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

2. Not blame, but responsibility

When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

You will do something like this:

“Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

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It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

What happened here?

We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

3. Doing the work

What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

“When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

Love is all you need

You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

And what happens if it simply is not there?

What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

There is only one thing you can do:

To break away.

Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

“We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

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Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

Putting distance

So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

What do I mean?

Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

I choose my peace of mind.

And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

How to prevent it

There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

  • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
  • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

Priorities and clear thought

You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com

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