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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Faldoni, parts 2900 - 2903

 2900. Before we describe Faldoni’s trial and its aftermath, I can’t help but notice that the situation of Faldoni is oddly similar to the predicament of a literary character; that being  Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables.” Valjean steals silver plates and silverware from the Bishop of Digne,  who had given him shelter for the night. Valjean is caught with the stolen items by the police but the Bishop, seeing his predicament, claims the silver was a gift he had given to Valjean

 2901. From Hugo’s Les Miserables: The Bishop says to Valjean, “Forget not, never forget that you have promised me to use this silver to become an honest man.” And then he says, “You belong no longer to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God.”

 2902. Earlier in the story, after the theft of the silver is discovered by the Bishop’s sister, the Bishop says to her, “I have for a long time wrongfully withheld this silver, it belonged to the poor.”

2903. This then is the way Victor Hugo chose to deal with the situation of a theft of things belonging to the church. He resorts to the device of making Valjean the symbol of all the worlds poor, and uses the situation to reproach the church for having riches in the first place. But if the Bishop was truly good he would perhaps have given Valjean the silver without the business of purchasing his soul in a Faustian display of devious charity.

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