About the Book

Book Protagonist: Jean Valjean
Publication Date: 1862
Genre: Historical Fiction

Character List

Les Misérables

By Victor Hugo

'Les Misérables' by Victor Hugo is a timeless classic that is beloved by readers the world over. It's a timeless story of redemption, love, and struggle that follows the life of Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who is on the run from the relentless Inspector Javert. 

Along with Jean Valjean, many other characters in ‘Les Misérables‘ bring the story to life. Hugo’s skillful characterization throughout his long novel brings each character to life, illuminating a well-loved tale of hardship, passion, determination, and resistance.

Jean Valjean

Jean Valjean is the protagonist of Victor Hugo’s novel ‘Les Misérables. He was convicted of stealing a loaf of bread and sentenced to 19 years of hard labor. Upon his release, he is filled with rage and resentment due to his unjust treatment and the years he spent in prison. He finds redemption in a meeting with Bishop Myriel, who takes him in and shelters him. 

His experiences lead him on a journey of self-discovery as he struggles to become a moral man despite the hardships and injustices he faces. He eventually becomes the mayor of Montreuil-sur-mer and adopts Cosette, the daughter of Fantine, whom he loves dearly. He symbolizes courage, compassion, and faith in a world full of injustice.


Javert is a strict and unbending police inspector. He is the novel’s primary antagonist, with a deep-seated moral code that emphasizes justice and order above all else. He is relentlessly pursuing Jean Valjean and is determined to bring him to justice for his past crimes. Javert is a man of intense loyalty, with a single-minded focus on his job. 

Though he respects the law and believes it should be upheld, he often goes too far in his pursuit of justice, not considering the consequences of his actions. His fanatical devotion to the law eventually leads to his undoing.


Fantine is a young woman. She is a former factory worker who was forced to leave her job when she became pregnant with her daughter Cosette and could no longer provide for her. Fantine is a kind-hearted, gentle person who has been dealt a hard life. Despite this, she never stops believing in hope and doing what she can to make sure that her daughter has a better life than her own. 

Fantine works as a seamstress and takes on odd jobs to try and make ends meet. She ultimately sacrifices her life so her daughter can have a better future. She is an enduring example of a strong woman and demonstrates the power of love and self-sacrifice.


Cosette is one of the main characters in Victor Hugo’s classic novel ‘Les Misérables.’ She is an orphaned girl taken in by Jean Valjean, who rescues her from the clutches of the Thénardiers. Despite being a child of a troubled past, Cosette grows up kind, gentle, and brave. She is deeply devoted to Valjean and marries Marius Pontmercy later in life. 

Cosette also strongly believes in God, which helps her find peace in difficult times. Her courage and selflessness throughout the story are inspiring, making Cosette a beloved character for readers.

Marius Pontmercy

Marius Pontmercy is a passionate and romantic young man. He is a student of the law and a member of the Friends of the ABC, a revolutionary society. He is brave, determined, and highly principled, willing to lay down his life for his beliefs. His love for Cosette drives him to great lengths to protect her and keep her safe. 

He is loyal to those he holds dear and will do whatever he can to help them, even if it means risking his own life. Marius’ strong-willed nature puts him in many dangerous situations throughout the story of ‘Les Misérables.’ Despite his rash decisions, he is an inspiring character who follows his conscience and ultimately finds peace and happiness.


Eponine is one of the main characters in ‘Les Misérables‘ by Victor Hugo. She is the daughter of the Thénardiers, who mistreat her and Cosette. Despite their neglect and mistreatment, Eponine has a kind heart and deeply loves her adoptive father, Jean Valjean. She dreams of a better life for herself and is unafraid to risk her safety for what she believes in. 

She uses her intellect to help Marius find Cosette and to protect Valjean from Javert’s pursuit. Though she dies during the fight for freedom, she dies with honor. Eponine is an independent and courageous woman who is loved by all despite her rough upbringing.


Gavroche is a young street urchin who lives on the streets of Paris and symbolizes the power of hope and determination. He is an orphaned and independent child with a wild spirit, quick wit, and cunning instincts. Despite his age, he is fiercely loyal to those he loves and acts bravely when they are in danger. 

He often plays an integral role in helping move the story forward, such as when he helps Jean Valjean and Cosette escape from Javert.


Enjolras is a leader of the revolutionary group ‘Friends of the ABC.’ He is a romantic, passionate young man determined to create a just society. He is well-known for his heroic courage, intelligence, and oratory skills, which allow him to command respect from his comrades. He is also a romantic figure with a strong moral code and selfless devotion to the cause. He believes fi the power of education and the need for social change and will stop at nothing to achieve his ideals. 

Enjolras shows a compassionate side despite his uncompromising beliefs and befriends Marius Pontmercy when he joins the revolution.

The Thénardiers

The Thénardiers are a greedy and unscrupulous couple who take in the young Cosette to use as a servant and a source of income. They are rude and cruel, without any sense of compassion or kindness, and they take advantage of anyone they can. Monsieur Thénardier is a masterful liar and thief who is constantly looking for ways to make money. He is especially skilled at exploiting people’s weaknesses and extracting money from them. 

Madame Thénardier is a spiteful woman who is quick to criticize and judge others, even her daughter Eponine. She has no qualms about exploiting her daughter’s poor background and upbringing, often using it to their advantage. The Thénardiers are a contemptible pair who symbolize the worst aspects of human nature and do whatever they can to survive and make money, regardless of who it hurts.


Who is the protagonist in Les Misérables?

Jean Valjean is the protagonist in ‘Les Misérables,’ a poor man who is wrongfully imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread.

What is the main conflict in Les Misérables?

The main conflict in ‘Les Misérables‘ is Jean Valjean’s struggle to free himself from his past and Javert’s pursuit of him to put him back in prison. Hugo explores several other conflicts throughout the novel, such as that of the French revolutionaries.

Who is the antagonist in Les Misérables?

Javert is the antagonist in ‘Les Misérables,’ an uncompromising police inspector who relentlessly pursues Jean Valjean. Oppression is also one of the primary issues that the characters in the novel face, including political and economic oppression.

Emma Baldwin
About Emma Baldwin
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues on Book Analysis.
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