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By Quentin Meillassoux

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To explain Javert's appearance immediately when he enters upon the scene would be to weaken all the dramatic effect of his irruption into Valjean and Cosette's peaceful life and would destroy the unity and steadily mounting suspense of the discoverychase-escape sequence. As it is, crisis follows crisis until Valjean disappears over the convent wall; then, satisfied that he is safe, we are prepared to hear an explanation of Javert's presence. The suspense in Chapter 8 is also very effectively maintained, and the working out of a complex criminal escape plot against the background of a convent also gives Hugo an opportunity for one of the dramatic contrasts both he and the reader enjoy.

Behind the visible resistance, a quieter, more pervasive opposition was growing to the whole concept of monarchy and government by the propertied classes. Socialist thinkers were critically reexamining the whole structure of society and undermining its old foundations. Thus, two years after the overthrow of the Bourbons, radical ideas, international tensions, and popular discontent already were forming heavy clouds on the political horizon. In April 1832, the situation has become explosive. The Saint Antoine section, the most volatile in Paris, is openly planning revolution.

Her garden is a world of endless discoveries. In Valjean she finds an interesting friend who shares with her the fruits of his wide readings; he is her universe, both father and mother to her, and she fusses over his cold room and his Spartan diet. She hardly remembers her past and has completely forgotten her mother, for Valjean never mentions her. A mysterious instinct warns her that her origins are a subject better left unmentioned. But unsuspected dangers threaten their tranquility. Cosette is about to enter adolescence, an age of temptations and longings for which she is completely unprepared.

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