Transformational Grace in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables

This thesis analyzes the process of human transformation apparent in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, specifically focusing on Hugo’s representation of God’s involvement in the process. I identify three major motifs: “Mysterious and Terrible Blows”; the “Abyss,” and the “Holy”; and the “Convert,” as movements in a recursive process of transformation which Hugo structures around four biblical imperatives of increasing difficulty: honesty, love of neighbor, love of enemy, and love of God above all else. I further analyze Hugo’s portrayal of human transformation through the lens of “transformational logic,” a theory which synthesizes insights from the human sciences and Christian theology. Reading Hugo’s text through this lens points to Hugo’s belief in God’s active presence in the abysses of life, graciously working to bring about his good purposes in the life of the individual.